Ouster of Superintendent to Cost District

Judy Hartnett's picture
Thursday, February 23, 2012

The decision to suspend the first-year superintendent at the South Conejos School District has angered parents and students and played a partial role in the loss of a $500,000 state grant aimed at improving student achievement.

At the end of last month, the district's school board voted 3-2 against the renewal of Superintendent Todd Lancaster's contract next year and put him on paid leave for the remainder of this school year.

The move prompted officials with the Colorado Department of Education to withdraw the Targeted District Improvement Program grant, which would have paid to implement a new curriculum and train teachers over three years.

A letter from the department read by school board President Rod Ruybalid at Monday night's board meeting cited turnover at the superintendent position.

With an acting superintendent in place, the district has had three superintendents in the past year.

The letter also cited the improvement of the district's state accreditation as a reason for the withdrawal.

The district, which takes in 224 students from Antonito and the south end of Conejos County, had been tagged with the second-lowest accreditation of the state's five levels of accreditation.

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