April 27, 2006
Acknowledging it was dysfunctional and its meetings were a mess, the Colorado Springs School District 11 board on Wednesday night discussed holding new elections for board officers.
Voting on board president and vice president will be discussed at the next meeting May 10, even though the board’s attorney, Deb Menkins, advised it that state law “likely prohibits” removing the officers. Board member Sandy Shakes proposed the idea, saying it would help the board members, who often argue about meeting agendas and exchange nasty remarks, work together better. “We’re not a functional board,” Shakes said. Shakes, who served as board president for two years from November 2003 until November 2005, said she is not interested in serving as board president again. Another attorney representing the board, Glenn Schlabs, will look into whether the board can hold another election for officers and report to the members at the May meeting. Although the board is represented by Menkins’ firm, Holme, Roberts and Owen, the board hired Schlabs’ firm recently to advise it on contract issues with the superintendent. Board Vice President Tami Hasling disagreed that changing officers would help board members work together. “I don’t see anything changing no matter who the president is,” she said. Board President John Gudvangen said all seven members are responsible for making it a functioning board. “We all need to work toward one another’s success” and the success of children, Gudvangen said. “I still love this job,” he said, adding he intends to continue trying to make the district better despite having his integrity and honesty questioned by other board members. Gudvangen was elected in Novem- ber 2005, with Hasling and Sandra Mann, in a vote that many saw as a reaction to the 2003 election in which Eric Christen, Craig Cox, Willie Breazell and Shakes were elected as a slate of “reformers.” The reformers’ majority disappeared after they took office when Shakes broke with the others over a contract with union teachers. Shakes, who was not reelected president after the November election, has since sided mostly with Cox, Christen and Breazell, leaving Gudvangen representing a minority on the board, a fact Christen pointed out Wednesday. “The current situation is untenable,” he said. The board discussed holding officer elections when the meeting began at 5:30 p.m., but the motion failed on a 3-3 vote, with Breazell absent. Christen, Cox and Shakes voted for holding new elections; Gudvangen, Hasling and Mann voted against the proposal. After the board came out of executive session, Breazell had joined the board and the motion was introduced again, coupled with removing a discussion about the board treasurer. That motion was approved 7-0. The board was still meeting at The Gazette’s deadline. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0394 or firstname.lastname@example.org