Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

Thompson says no to Berthoud pool, approves pay raise for Superintendent Schaffer

June 14, 2019 | Education

By Dan Karpiel

The Surveyor

While a formal vote to make a final decision will not come until June 19, last Wednesday the Thompson School District (TSD) Board of Education expressed the remaining $24 million from the bond premium will go toward additional needed maintenance projects and other needs rather than for an indoor, competition-ready pool at Berthoud’s proposed rec center.

After voters approved ballot issue 5B – the sale of $149 million in bonds for capital improvements district-wide – the district’s bond underwriter was able to sell the bonds at a premium that brought in an excess $34.8 million. The ballot language stipulated the bonds must be used for capital construction and facility improvements, and the district has already decided $10.8 million of the $34.8 million bond premium be allocated for the refurbishment of Loveland’s Stansberry and Van Buren Elementary schools to repurpose the facilities as an early childhood and career and technical education centers, respectively.

In May a group of Berthoud trustees met with representatives from the Thompson Board of Education and the idea was pitched for the district to kick in $4.5 million from the bond premium to build the indoor pool at the rec center. The six-lane, indoor pool could be used by the Berthoud High School (BHS) and Turner Middle School swimming and diving teams as well as by the rest of the Berthoud community.

Board members, however, were clear that providing Berthoud with the $4.5 million will not happen, as other needs district-wide are more pressing and of greater importance. The monies will instead be used to install secure vestibules in the district’s four high schools, purchase furniture for 850 classrooms, conduct various additional maintenance projects, and put more into the contingency fund to cover potential cost over-runs in the various construction, maintenance and security improvement projects already approved.

The board also approved a 4.5 percent pay raise for Superintendent Marc Schaffer. With the raise Schaffer, who just completed his first year as TSD superintendent, will see his compensation go from $192,500 annually to $201,162.50. Schaffer was also given a one-year extension on his contract that now runs through the 2021-22 school year.

TSD leadership holds listening session at BHS

Last Monday at BHS, TSD Chief Human Resources Officer Bill Siebers, and Director of Secondary Education Theo Robison, held what was dubbed “a listening session” for parents and community members to discuss the search for a new BHS principal. The forum was held following the resignation of Sarah Beth Bliss who left her role after one year on the job amid a litany of controversies surrounding her leadership and stewardship of the school.

Siebers and Robison listened for more than hour as parents and others vented frustration over the school’s leadership turnover – the next principal will be Berthoud’s fourth in as many years – and offered feedback surrounding qualifications and desired traits for the new-hire, which will be announced in late June.

The majority of those in attendance seemed pleased that Michael DeWall, who served as assistant principal and athletic director under Bliss during the 2018-19 school year, would be returning in the same role next year. Siebers and Robison worked to steer the discussion in a manner that spoke toward the future and the school’s next principal, with parents and others making frequent mention of the need for greater community engagement, accountability and encouragement of school spirit. One former student asked the TSD officials to explain why the next hire will be different from the previous two, each of whom only lasted a single school year.

On Tuesday, June 18, from 5 to 7 p.m. TSD will host a community forum at BHS where the finalists for the principal position will be available to speak with students, parents and community members. According to an email sent by the district, “Students, parents and community members are encouraged to attend and provide feedback on the finalists before final hiring decisions are made.”

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