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June 17th local news links

June 18, 2010

Official Press release by Lewis-Palmer School District and links to local coverage of the June 17, 2010 Board of Education action to accept Superintendent Blanch’s resignation (click on title to view entire article and comments, or to contact the reporter):

Lewis-Palmer School District #38 News Release dated June 18, 2010 (link to District website)

Posted: 7:25 PM Jun 17, 2010 (Updated: 8:08 PM Jun 17, 2010)
Reporter: KKTV

D-38 Superintendent Resigns Amid Flood Of Protests
By: Joe Dominguez (KRDO)
first posted June 17, 2010 at 11:37p.m.

Posted: 06.18.2010 at 11:23 PM
(Fox 21)

MONUMENT, COLO. — At its June 17 meeting, the Lewis-Palmer School District Board of Education approved the resignation of Superintendent Raymond H. Blanch, effective June 30.

The board will meet in the next few days to appoint an acting superintendent effective July 1 until an interim superintendent can be hired. A national search for a new superintendent will be conducted during the next school year.

Blanch has been in the district for nine years, serving as principal of Kilmer Elementary; executive director of Assessment, Research and Technology; assistant superintendent and superintendent of schools (since January 2007). Blanch was instrumental in creating a community-driven strategic vision for the district, guiding the educational decisions for students throughout the Tri-Lakes community.

When Blanch was hired as superintendent, the district faced a myriad of financial issues, and he successfully led the district from a deficit spending budget with minimal reserves to its current, positive financial position.

“Ray has set a clear path for our district from an educational standpoint, and he has provided us with the best possible financial security as we face more uncertain financial times,” said John Mann, Board of Education president. “We look forward to building upon his successes and, thanks to our amazing staff, continuing to provide excellent education to our students.”

Blanch was also instrumental in the successful passage of the bond to design and build Palmer Ridge High School.

“Lewis-Palmer has some of the finest educators around, and it has been an honor to work with them in pursuit of LPSD’s vision,” Blanch said.

Blanch attributed his resignation to both personal and professional reasons. “I believe this is the best thing for my family at this point in time, and I wish all those in Lewis-Palmer the best in their pursuit of excellence.”

“We appreciate the contributions and leadership Ray has provided in his many roles in the district over the years,” said Robb Pike, Board of Education vice president. “We will miss his dedication but understand his desire to move forward with his family.”

As part of the agreement with Blanch, he will be paid $78,500 under his contract, and his accrued vacation and sick leave. In addition, Blanch and his family will have health care covered for up to one year or until such time he is covered by his future employer.

Information provided by Lewis-Palmer District 38.
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Lewis-Palmer superintendent’s resignation accepted at emotional meeting
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June 17, 2010 9:15 PM

The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 board voted unanimously Thursday to approve a resignation agreement with Superintendent Raymond Blanch, effective June 30.

Blanch will receive $78,500 and his accrued vacation and sick leave, and the district will provide health care insurance for up to a year for Blanch and his family, according to the agreement.

A nine-year veteran of the district, Blanch has been superintendent since January 2007.

The board vote came after a half-dozen people spoke passionately on Blanch’s behalf, and asked the board why this was suddenly coming up. Each speaker elicited applause from much of the crowd in the meeting room, and Anthony Salamone brought people to their feet when he accused the board of pushing Blanch out the door.

“If you accept his resignation, where do you think you’re going to take the district?” Salamone said. “I know you’re going to say the board didn’t remove, that he resigned,” adding that most believe Blanch was forced out.

Although board members declined to discuss the particulars, citing confidentiality of personnel issues, Blanch said after the meeting that his departure was “the best decision for my family right now.”

He alluded to medical issues with a particular family member, and said the family might be moving “back east” to be closer to extended family.

His resignation letter, dated Wednesday, said he is resigning for “personal and professional reasons.”

Board members credited Blanch with providing strong leadership at a difficult time in the district, which this year closed a school and reduced staff while cutting the budget.

After approving the 2010-11 budget and the agreement with Blanch, the board convened into executive session to discuss personnel issues. Board President John Mann said the board would appoint an interim superintendent and conduct a national search for a superintendent during the coming year.

He said the resignation negotiations with Blanch were conducted “fairly and appropriately” and the district’s lawyers were involved.

“This was a pretty contentious issue for people tonight,” he said. “There was a lot of emotion here. Now we need to discuss our way forward.”

Parent Georgiana Gittins, who serves on the District Accountability Committee, said she doesn’t believe that Blanch left on his own. A small group of people who didn’t like him pushed for the board to get rid of him and Blanch’s supporters weren’t involved in the discussion, she said.

“I don’t understand what has brought us here tonight,” she said during citizen’s comments at the meeting. She added that she had petitions in support of retaining Blanch, but believed they were pointless because the board had secretly made its decision.

“People clueless about why this is happening,” she said. “The board turned its back on us.”

Parent Michelle Zeutzius said she has spoken to elections officials about mounting a recall against four of the five board members and is revising a draft of a recall petition. She said she expects to file with the county by next week and begin collecting signatures.

The board members who will be targeted in the effort are Mann, Jeffery Ferguson, Mark Pfoff and Robb Pike, she said. Board member Gail Wilson, who made a statement in support of Blanch before casting her vote to accept his resignation, noting that her vote would not change the decision.

“I was part of board that hired Dr. Blanch to lead this district, a decision I do not regret,” she said. “I applaud him for what he has accomplished.”

Blanch resigns from D-38

Ray Blanch resigned June 17 as superintendent for School District 38.

By Lisa Collacott (The Tribune)
Published: 06.18.10
Against the wishes of many in the community, School District 38 Board of Education accepted the resignation of Superintendent Dr. Ray Blanch.

The board unanimously approved Blanch’s resignation at the district’s June 17 board meeting.

There was overwhelming support for Blanch by teachers and parents who showed up at the meeting and many of them felt that this was a forced resignation by the board of education.

“I feel that the decision has been forced,” Georgina Gittins said, expressing anger that the community was kept in the dark about what was going on and was not given the opportunity to give input on the matter.

Gittins said she went out to members in the community with a petition to keep Blanch and many were shocked to learn that he was resigning.

“It [is] devastating to the community to lose our leader,” she said.

Michelle Zeutzius, parent and member of the PTO at Prairie Winds Elementary School, was angered that the board would even consider accepting Blanch’s resignation.

Zeutzius spoke of how when she needed help regarding her son’s education her phone calls to the board were not returned. She said she contacted Blanch and he stepped in immediately to help her find what worked best for her son.

Zeutzius said the PTO would invite the board members to different functions at the school and they would not show up. She said Blanch would come out consistently and support the school.

“The community is going to be more divided because of the actions of this board,” she said, also insinuating the resignation was forced.

Jeanette Cole, a teacher at Prairie Winds, said the district has already had to face budget cuts and now they have to face losing their superintendent. She is concerned that with all the budget issues the board will name someone else to the position that doesn’t know what they’re doing.

“Dr. Blanch is one of us,” Cole said. “He knows what he is doing.”

Blanch has been superintendent of the district since January of 2007. He began his career with the district nine years ago as the principal of Kilmer Elementary.

Blanch moved into the position of Executive Director of Assessment and Research and then assistant superintendent before being hired as superintendent.

According to a press release sent out by the district, “When Blanch was hired as superintendent, the district faced a myriad of financial issues, and he successfully led the district from a deficit spending budget with minimal reserves to its current positive financial position.”

Some wonder how the district can move forward with this decision at such a critical time given the budget situation.

Anthony Salamone had two questions for the board. “If you accept this resignation how do you expect to move forward and what is your plan to fill his position?”

Before she went forward with her vote, trustee Gail Wilson spoke to the community of disappointed teachers and parents. She said that Blanch was a great superintendent.

“I was part of the board that hired Dr. Blanch and I don’t regret it… It is with deep regret that I accept his resignation,” Wilson said.

When asked if he felt if the board made the right decision accepting his resignation Blanch replied, “It is the best decision for my family,”

Blanch said that the district has a lot of good people and great kids. He said that he has had the opportunity to work with some great people like the PTO’s, members of Tri-Lakes Cares, teachers and staff and many others.

So what’s next for Blanch?

“Hopefully to find a position as a superintendent in another school district,” he said.

After the meeting several people went up to Blanch to give him a hug and to tell him he would be missed. Some walked away with tears in their eyes.

The board of education will meet in a special session next week to appoint an acting superintendent until an interim superintendent is hired.

Blanch’s resignation is effective June 30. The acting superintendent will take over July 1.

The district expects to hire an interim superintendent this summer to serve through the 2010-2011 school year.

There will be a nationwide search for a new superintendent next school year.

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