Superintendent Karen Brofft, who has led Lewis-Palmer School District 38 in Monument since the summer of 2014, will leave her job at the end of this school year.

Monday, Brofft said she plans to retire.

She submitted a resignation letter during a closed-door session with the five-member board two weeks ago, said D-38 spokeswoman Julie Stephen.

At a meeting Tuesday night, board members will decide whether to work with the Colorado Association of School Boards to search for a replacement.

“Sometimes, you just know when the time is right,” said Brofft, 59. “I can retire and shift my focus to my family and some projects I care deeply about that cannot be accomplished while serving in the role of superintendent.”

Being a superintendent is a “time-intensive, challenging role” that requires shutting down most other aspects of life, she said. What she’s most liked about the job is the people she’s worked with daily, from principals, teachers and other staff members to students and parents.

“I have enjoyed identifying the most significant needs of our district and students and targeting support and programming to meet those needs,” Brofft said, adding that she’s “constantly reminded of the amazing people we have in our community that continue to support our kids with their time in schools and serving our district.”

The affluent, high-achieving Tri-Lakes district of 6,922 students has faced contentious times during Brofft’s leadership, with one board member resigning in April, claiming she had been bullied, which other members disputed.

In recent elections, party lines have been drawn by campaign financiers and candidate platforms, even though school board seats are nonpartisan. Three seats on the D-38 board will be open in the November 2019 election.

Brofft cites community growth as one of the district’s challenges. She said she was disappointed that D-38 voters rejected two financing measures on the Nov. 6 ballot, to build an elementary school and make other improvements to prepare for increasing enrollment. But that’s not why she’s stepping down, Brofft said..

“When we conducted a poll last spring, the phrase that seemed to resonate with most of our community was the idea that ‘a quality school district keeps our community and local economy strong,’” she said. “While many believe this, we still have a disconnect when we go to voters and ask to support our district with a financial commitment.”

Some D-38 parents who identify on social media as “fiscally conservative” said they thought the tax increases would lead to overbuilding and excess, and the district would be better off repurposing existing buildings.

In previous years, D-38 parents have voiced concerns at the state level about student data privacy and led resistance to opting their students out of standardized testing.

Brofft cites as another difficulty she’s faced, “The polarizing rhetoric we hear in our community and in communities across the state and nation also presents a challenge and moves us further away from common solutions that can make a difference for our schools and communities.”

A fall 2017 survey on Brofft’s performance from staff and families showed high confidence in knowledge of her job and encouraging a growth mindset, from staff.

But she scored between 58 percent and 68 percent on “always” — the highest answer — on such statements as “Models and maintains a collaborative work environment” and “Provides structures and evaluates current processes.”

Family respondents indicated lower confidence in Brofft’s abilities.

Among her accomplishments, Brofft cites daily progress.

“Much of what we do is accomplished through integrated team efforts that include administrators, teachers, other staff and volunteers,” she said, mentioning programs that promote supportive cultures in schools and empower students to form positive relationships.

Community outreach through D-38 Deliberates sessions and a new online Thoughtexchange platform, a two-year planning process to address growth and expanded programs to prepare for life after high school are among other achievements Brofft notes.{span style=”font-family: georgia, serif;”} {/span}

Many people will miss Brofft, said Walt Cooper, superintendent of Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 and Colorado’s 2018 Superintendent of the Year.

“She’s been a strong leader for not only District 38,” Cooper said. “She’s a strong and articulate leader, and somebody who really understands what it takes in terms of striving for adequacy and equity across the state, not just in her own backyard.”

Brofft co-chaired the Colorado Association of School Executive’s legislative committee last school year.

In May, she was named the 2018 Communicator of the Year by the Colorado School Public Relations Association for being “a key leader across the state,” not only for “outstanding work” in D-38, but also for her “dedication to education reform, public policy and legislation in support of public schools and our state-wide funding challenges,” according to the organization.

Brofft, the only female superintendent in the Pikes Peak region’s 17 public school districts, is the fourth superintendent in the area to quit in the past year. Nicholas Gledich retired from Colorado Springs School District 11 in June. Andre Spencer abruptly left Harrison School District 2 in April. And Academy School District 20 Superintendent Mark Hatchell announced Oct. 1 that he will retire June 30, after this school year ends.

Brofft previously was assistant superintendent for Englewood Public School District.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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