D14 Board of Education praised during work session

News  /  Village

By William J. Dagendesh

Manitou Springs residents praised the school district during the Nov. 3 District 14 Board of Education meeting, much to the surprise of board members.

The session recalled the Oct. 17 meeting when parents of the Stand Up for Manitou voiced their concerns about the district’s turnover rates of administrators and educators. At that meeting, the organization presented the results from an exit survey they commissioned on why staffers were leaving the district and in large numbers.

Also at that meeting, some former D14 personnel said the district doesn’t value its people or their ideas, and claimed their professional expertise is dismissed. Others even said that personnel left due to dishonest behavior from within the district.

Earlier this year, D14 parents formed the volunteer group Stand Up for Manitou to investigate what caused the turnovers. The group, now comprised of 60-plus families, challenged D14 by insisting they address the alleged high personnel turnover.

The group is seeking to understand how decisions being made are impacting students, why personnel who have left have not returned to work and how parents can ensure that D14 remains the region’s most desirable district.

However, this time the climate was livelier as parents reported a more positive review of the school board. Board members listened to more opinions, but this time in support of the Manitou Springs school district and its culture.

Middle school teacher Shaunda McQueeney said she loves D14 and that the district has been a gift to her family. Looking toward the district’s future, McQueeney said she wants the conversation to move forward in a positive way that brings everyone together instead of being divisive. In this way, the district will be able to focus on what’s best for students, she said.

Similarly, another middle school teacher, Elizabeth Duthoy, said D14 is a great place to work and that she is beyond grateful to work for such a leadership team.

Cory Urban, also a middle school teacher, said she is excited about the district’s visionary leadership. Urban said she believes in the leadership, and that’s why she has chosen to remain in Manitou Springs and D14.

Other community members commented on the school district’s leadership and the support provided to teachers.

Manitou Springs High School parent Brenda Holmes-Stanciu is leading the Stand Up for Manitou group. In a statement provided to the BOE, Holmes-Stanciu said it is the responsibility of the BOE and not the parents to carry out discipline regarding issues with the superintendent.

“While the superintendent continues to state the Stand Up for Manitou will not meet with her or her administration, we feel strongly now is not the time. It is not a volunteer parent group’s responsibility to discipline or address performance issues with the superintendent. That is the role of the board of education,” Holmes-Stanciu said in her statement.

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