Moffat County School Board votes to release Superintendent Brent Curtice from responsibilities, beginning April 15
Board will seek an interim superintendent in the meantime; Board President Darrell Camilletti says move is not a reflection of Curtice's performance
Craig — The Moffat County Board of Education voted 5 to 2 on Thursday to release Superintendent Brent Curtice from his remaining contract responsibilities, beginning on April 15. Curtice had resigned earlier this school year to take the superintendent’s position at Garfield School District No. Re. 2. His contract, after his resignation, was to run through June 30.
Board members resolved to hire an interim superintendent before a new superintendent takes the post.
“This motion and the passing of this motion was not an indictment of Brent’s performance,” said Board President Darrell Camilletti, noting that the decision represented the board’s plan “to move forward with the process.”
Board members JoAnn Baxter and Tony Peroulis voted against the motion.
The Moffat County Education Association issued a statement after the meeting.
“The actions taken by the Moffat County School board at this morning’s meeting were shocking, short-sighted, and inexcusable,” the MCEA’s statement said. It went on to note that Baxter and Peroulis appeared to be “blindsided by the conversation.”
Both board members said during the meeting that they didn’t know that Thursday’s discussion would involve releasing Curtice from his contract.
“With their decision to remove a leader that staff overwhelmingly support,” the MCEA statement continued, “the board has proven yet again that they do not care about the input of the employees of Moffat County School District.” The MCEA statement observed that the meeting occurred during the day, with no scheduled public comment period — although one resident did speak, after asking permission.
The MCEA also noted the expense of paying an interim superintendent when funds are tight, and the group objected to the board’s hiring “an interim superintendent with no knowledge of the process, legal obligations, and without having any sort of transition plan in place.”
The Moffat County Board of Education also released a statement shortly after the meeting announcing the decision.
“This decision in no way reflects on the performance of Brent but rather a decision of the board to allow the district to continue in the current direction but also be (cognizant) of the fact that new leadership will be in place by July 1, 2016,” the statement said. “The board would like to thank Brent for his contributions over the past 5 years. We feel there’s a valuable team in place and look forward to working with each of you in the future.”
The board’s decision followed a discussion that, contentious at times, broached the school board’s mission and the school district’s future.
Board member Sue Voloshin was among members who noted the need for greater progress and togetherness within the school board. She said the board’s progress has been “stagnant” during the two years that she’s served as a member.
“I know that the schools, the staff — they have been doing (strong work),” she said. “But as a board we have not made progress.”
“I do not want the teachers feeling that they have to leave because this board is against them, and that is not the case,” she said. “That has never been the case in my mind. I got on the board because … the scores are not acceptable to me. And they shouldn’t be acceptable to any of us. We’ve got to come together and improve.”
Early in the meeting, board member Darryl Steele noted a number of points relevant to the decision about how to proceed at the superintendent’s positions. Stressing they were his own observations, he voiced disagreement with the administration regarding the estimated cost saving of closing Maybell Elementary School. Listed on the district’s website is an estimated savings of $52,327 to $107,000 — numbers Steele said were high.
He also proposed that “all evaluations of employees done directly by (Curtice) will be evaluated by the board until they are initiated into the system.” And he asked that Curtice present a balanced budget by May 1 — something that he and other board members have discussed before.
Baxter responded, noting that she believed the supervision of evaluations was not needed.
“I have not heard of (Curtice) pressuring employees, and I have not heard of unfair evaluations,” Baxter said. She also noted concerns about the school board “micromanaging” evaluations.
Curtice said he was open to the board’s needs, and he also exhorted the board to work diligently in the coming weeks — particularly on the budget and superintendent issues.
“I’ve spent five years here building and going through a lot of tough times and a lot of good things,” Curtice said. “What saddens the most is what’s on your plate right now is so critical to the future of this district and those people out there, that if you don’t get it right, and start making some of those decisions, then I don’t know if any of those people will still be out there.”
Near the end of the meeting, Baxter noted that she foresaw distress at the board’s decision among school staff members. Speaking slowly, and choosing her words with care, she addressed them.
“We need all of you on board,” she said. “I beg you to please stay, at least until we get this worked out.”
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