A guest commentary by four members of the Ridgway School Board ran in The Watch recently. Regrettably, it contained many contradictions. I would like to address just a couple.
First, the piece said ”After careful consideration and often difficult discussions amongst ourselves and with community stakeholders, we’ve determined that a change in leadership in the position of Secondary School Principal is necessary.” The reality is that this board waffled. It was convinced at a March 19, 2014 meeting with nearly 100 community members – teachers, parents, students and taxpayers – to retain Mr. Hobbs as principal.
The board was impressed and overwhelmed with the feedback. The board came to the conclusion that Mr. Hobbs should be retained for one year as administrator of the secondary school, and that a recommendation by the interim superintendent would be made to the board next year. But then we waffled. What will Hobbs’ few detractors think? So we put off the decision and did not vote that night. Mr. Hobbs was gracious enough to allow the board more time to figure things out, but he said to us, “I don’t want to talk about this for two months and then end up without a job.” The board admitted that would not be fair to Hobbs. Yet that is exactly what happened.
The guest commentary says the board considered all the input it received. What it actually did was sway whichever way the wind was blowing. Hurricane force winds persuaded the board on March 19 to do the right thing and renew Hobbs’ contract for one year. The next day the board began to hear from a very small but powerful faction in town. That culminated in an unusual board meeting at 3pm on a Tuesday, April 8, when four people who have axes to grind with Hobbs took the board to task for only listening to the “pep rally crowd.” My fellow board members backpedaled and after that meeting the fate of Mr. Hobbs was sealed. The very people who hired Ms. Gomez five years ago were not going to allow her to “resign” without demanding the dismissal of the one person who wouldn’t be bullied.
The piece concludes with ”Just as we are eager to move forward, we hope staff and the community also will resolve to move forward with us in the best interests of our District. We invite everyone to join us in a new beginning so we may forge a better and stronger era in the history of the Ridgway School District.” Yet at the school board meeting held Monday night (5/12/14) a board member was confused and thought he was in a courtroom prosecuting a witness in the form of Mr. Hobbs. Jim Bob’s crime? Taking a sick day last week. Mothers and students had to scold the board member to get him to behave. It was not exactly inviting a new beginning, as the board wrote it wanted.
Finally, the piece is attributed in The Watch to the Ridgway School Board, reported to be just four members; “(Members of the Ridgway Board of Education are Roger Sagal, Heather Yeowell, Greg Lawler, and Steve Larivee).“ Turns out Ridgway has a five-member board and I’m the fifth. Actually, I’m the longest serving board member in Ridgway. Guess my colleagues are trying to put an old stag out to pasture for not toeing the party line.
My response to them is, not yet. To paraphrase the poet, we have promises to keep, and miles to go before we sleep.
Bart Skalla, Member, Ridgway Schools Board of Education
Category: Letters to the Editor