Hayden School Board interviews principal candidates | CraigDailyPress.com

Hayden School Board interviews principal candidates

New Secondary Schools leader to be announced Friday

Scott Franz

— A longtime Hayden School District teacher and the Moffat County High School math department chairman are the finalists to become the Tigers' next Secondary Schools principal.

Hayden School Board members met with Gina Zabel, a literacy teacher in Hayden, and David Grabowski, a math teacher at Moffat County High School, on Wednesday night. Before the interviews, the board called a special meeting for Friday morning, where the chosen candidate is scheduled to be hired.

Zabel started her career with the Hayden district in 1994 as an elementary music and middle school reading teacher and later taught sixth grade, until 2001. She also served as the district's middle school principal for four years until her position was consolidated because of budget cuts in 2010.

"I really enjoyed being a principal, and I loved the ability to be a leader," Zabel said. "I feel like I went through a thorough application process for this position, and I'm glad that I did. It's an exciting opportunity."

Grabowski, the district's other finalist, has been with the Moffat County School District in Craig for five years. An educator for 14 years, he also taught math classes in Omaha, Neb. Grabowski is the president of the Moffat County Education Association.

"I feel like this would be a great opportunity for advancement," he said about the principal position in Hayden. "It's somewhere close to home, which is important for me and my family."

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Each candidate was interviewed for about 45 minutes.

Hayden initiated the search for its next Secondary Schools principal after Troy Zabel, a longtime Hayden resident who graduated from the high school in 1983, left Hayden last week to serve as a superintendent in the Bayfield School District, a 1,350-student district southeast of Durango.

The district received 15 applications for the position, and a committee that included School Board members, parents and teachers interviewed the four finalists last week.

Board members are set to meet at 7 a.m. Friday at a special meeting to formally hire the next principal for the middle and high schools.

Superintendent Mike Luppes said Tuesday that he was thrilled with the candidates who applied for the job.

"A lot of times we would just make a recommendation to the board about a candidate, but we thought it would be more fair for the board and the community to meet and talk to the finalists before a decision is made," Luppes said. "We had a tremendous pool of candidates."

At Wednesday night's meeting, the board also formally approved its 2011-12 budget. The budget included about $80,000 in cuts after the district applied the funds gained by a voter-approved property tax increase of $321,522.

In passing next year's budget, the district did not have to reduce any existing staff positions this year, although some positions that were vacated by retirement or resignations will remain unfilled. Other budget cuts include a 10 percent reduction in school supplies budgets as well as a change in a district policy that would have students pay for travel expenses for extra-curricular activities.

Other board items

■ Chad Reischl, a representative of the University of Colorado's Learning Landscapes program that renovates campus playgrounds, presented a preliminary outline for possible improvements to Hayden's elementary school playscape. The district received a $10,000 LiveWell grant from the program this year that was used to develop plans.

The district plans to apply for a grant from the Colorado Health Foundation to help fund the proposed renovations, which also could improve and expand the district's track and field facility.

■ The board approved a motion to renew its membership with the Colorado Association of School Boards, which provides training and policy updates for board members.

— To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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