Sheridan community members and students express opinions about superintendent

Sheridan high school students had the option to participate in a student-generated survey stating whether or not they would like to see Superintendent Kim Harding’s contract renewed.

Senior Jackie Schaff generated the survey after the Jan. 14 school board meeting.

“I was motivated to do something about [Harding’s] contract renewal for awhile and just recently the opportunity came up,” Schaff said. “The biggest problem I see is that students do not voice their opinions to the people who make decisions about the school—the board.”

Schaff stood at the lunchroom doors and handed out a survey to every student in the high school. Out of 54 students on the roster, 46 agreed to take the survey, which asked for the student’s name (optional), grade and whether or not they wanted to see Harding’s contract renewed.

“Three said yes, they would like the contract renewed and 43 said no,” Schaff said. “I made it clear to everyone that they should give their opinion—even if the results did not match my opinion, I would give it to the board.”

Schaff said she expected the results she received and expanded on her own issues with Harding as superintendent.

“I want a superintendent that is willing to talk to students, parents, teachers and community members,” she said. “My mother and I, along with other people from around here, have gone to the school board before with complaints and questions and we have been ignored.”

Schaff has compiled the survey results into a spreadsheet to present to the trustees at a special meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 21, where Harding’s contract renewal will be discussed.

“I will be standing outside as people come to the meeting encouraging them to give their opinion, no matter what it is,” she said.

Sheridan community member and former board trustee Jeff Marsh said he believes a lot of people in the area have been “patiently waiting” during Harding’s term for the vote about her contract renewal.

“There has been a lot of unrest the last couple years and many people have been hoping she would not be rehired,” Marsh said.

Marsh served on the Sheridan School Board for 15 years—his final term concluded in May 2013. Marsh was careful not to speak for all community members or school staff, but brought up issues he personally has with Harding’s role as superintendent.

“I have had issues with her poor budgeting skills, the way she has mishandled personnel issues and the conflicts she has had with parents and students,” he said. “Sometimes she was unwilling to follow the directive of the board.”

Community member Stephanie Haag has four children currently in the Sheridan school system—ranging from a high school junior to a third-grader. According to Haag, every issue she has approached Harding with has been dealt with professionally.

“I can only go by my own experience with the school, but I feel like [Harding] has always handled every concern [I’ve had] well,” Haag said. “I feel like every issue I have had as a parent has been handled well by [Harding].

Board chairperson Rhonda Boyd did not offer a statement on behalf of Harding—although she voted against the non-renewal of Harding’s contract—stating she had “no comment at this time.”

At the school board’s regular meeting on Jan. 14, Boyd presented the board with a letter written by former trustee Lisa Morgan. The letter expressed Morgan’s support of Harding’s work as superintendent, specifically citing the work she has done obtaining grants for the school.

During his stint on the school board, Marsh said he has never seen students address issues in the school the way they are now. Marsh is grateful the Sheridan community is taking interest.

“It is about time people are ready to show up,” he concluded. “This time the situation has become a widespread problem and people want to act.”

 

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