Superintendent, board president resignations signal new chapter for Summit schools
FRISCO — The Summit School District’s Board of Education began the process of a major regime change at its regular meeting Thursday night with the official announcement of Superintendent Kerry Buhler’s retirement at the end of the school year in June and the acceptance of board President Bonnie Ward’s resignation, effective immediately.
Buhler’s retirement had been announced by the district Tuesday, while Ward’s resignation appeared as a late addition to Thursday’s meeting agenda. The board voted to accept Ward’s resignation and passed a resolution declaring a vacancy on the board, which must be filled by a board appointment in 60 days.
“The Board of Education recognizes the time Dr. Bonnie Ward has devoted to give all students the resources necessary to prepare them to achieve their greatest potential and appreciates her advocacy for all students and their unique challenges to meet the expectations of the future,” according to the resolution.
Ahead of the meeting Thursday, board members and staff were tight lipped and declined to comment on the timing and sudden nature of the announcements. The departures come shortly after the board had seen an overhaul with four new members being elected in November and merely a week after a contentious negotiation on the allocation of Ballot Measure 4A funds.
Those negotiations ended with the district abandoning a compensation philosophy of an equal 2% raise for administrators/exempt staff and support staff after the Summit County Education Association walked away from a new contract in protest. The board ended up giving administrators and exempt staff a 0.75% raise and support staff a 3.25% raise.
While neither Buhler nor Ward attributed their departures to the 4A negotiations, Buhler had defended the equal raises for administrators previously and admitted there had been some challenges associated with the arrival of four new members of the board: Gini Bradley, Chris Alleman, Gloria Quintero and Consuelo Redhorse.
“Those kinds of things can be kind of challenging, when we don’t quite agree on where we’ve been or where we’re going,” Buhler said after the meeting. “But in the end, my hope would be that we figure this out together because we’re only going to be as strong as you know we can be as a team.”
Buhler also hinted at friction with new members and the platform of change on which they were elected.
“It’s certainly been frustrating and a bit of a struggle to bring along a new school board because these are four new members who have not been involved before,” Buhler said.
Regardless of whatever underlying tension and backroom arguments that might have taken place, Buhler and Ward beamed about their experience working in public education for a combined 90 years.
Ward said she would go on to conduct her many volunteer activities in the district, while Buhler said she was looking forward to spending more time with her grandkids. Both agreed that public education was heading in the right direction and maintained faith that the district would do right by its kids.
“The teachers do such a wonderful job with them, and they’re always looking for new opportunities, new experiences,” Ward said. “If you remain uninvolved, you may not be aware of that. But if you spend a little bit of time in our schools or around our students, you come away pretty, pretty optimistic for the future. I am.”
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