Harrison schools delay vote to consider new form of governance

March 18, 2010

In an emotion-packed meeting, the Harrison School District 2 board delayed a vote Thursday on a new type of governance that some districts in the nation use to streamline board and administrative functions.

The board discussed the item and will vote in April so attorneys can continue to tweak the draft.

The governance model, which some government and nonprofits use, has been referred to by consultants as “getting the boards off their agendas.”

The system, Coherent Governance, would allow the board to delegate daily operations to the superintendent and staff, within strict parameters of accountability. It was created by The Aspen Group International of Castle Rock.

Proponents say it would  give the board time to focus on what boards are mandated to do — govern by policy, ensuring that district goals are met in student achievement, the district has resources to meet goals, and the results fit taxpayers’ expectations.

Critics including Mike Stahl,  executive director of the Pikes Peak Education Association,  fear it gives  too much power to the superintendent.

Board member Victor Torres voiced concern about lack of community involvement and that $50,000 was spent on consulting fees. "I have not seen the benefit of trying to fix something that has not been broken," he said.

Board members Deborah Hendrix and Linda Pugh said the idea was their’s, not the superintendent’s, and that they’d heard about it at national conventions.

The governance issue comes on top of another controversial change — linking teacher pay to student achievement.

In an electrifying moment before a hushed audience, board members and the superintendent made impassioned remarks defending their various decisions, saying that misinformation and backbiting would not sway them from focusing on  student achievement.

In the past three years, tests scores have improved and the district has been off academic probation.

Superintendent Mike Miles, praised teachers, principals and staff for making school a sanctuary for children. “This is hard work, and we won’t apologize for it, though some want us to,” Miles said.

Board member Richard Price said he grew up like a lot of the kids in the district — most of whom are minorities and impoverished. He said that he grew up in a house without running water in an era when as a black he couldn’t ride public buses. He said that it was school that “saved me.”  

Getting to his feet, he said,  “We don’t have time to be worried about adult issues, about someone getting power? You should be more worried about kids getting power.”

Contact Carol McGraw
 at 636-0371

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