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Eagle County School District losing five principals

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EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Eagle County’s schools will lose five principals when the school year ends.

Three will retire, one is taking another position with the school district and one is headed back to the Pacific Northwest.

Retiring are:



• Nancy Ricci, Red Sandstone Elementary School.

• Steve Smith, Gypsum Creek Middle School.



• Mark Strakbein, Eagle Valley High School.

Berry Creek Middle School Principal Robert Cuevas will move to the district office to oversee the migrant recruiting program, and deliver district-wide diversity training. About half the school district’s students are Hispanic.

The position is funded by a federal grant through the Colorado Department of Education.



Eagle Valley Middle School Principal John Trinca is resigning and will move his family back to Oregon.

The school district will run a national search to fill the positions.

One position the school district will not replace is Sandra Smyser’s. The school board offered the superintendent a new three-year contract and is scheduled to approve it at its Jan. 26 meeting.

In Eagle County schools, administrative salaries line out like this:

• Elementary school principal: $69,836

• Middle school principal: $84,963

• High school principal: $92,456

• Superintendent Smyser: $183,928.85

“As in any business, change is inevitable and in the world of education there is no exception,” Smyser said. “Each of these school communities can be confident that we will find exceptional individuals to replace these principals who will remain committed to the success of our students.”

Cuevas started with Eagle County schools in 2001, as a teacher at Eagle Valley High School. In his new role, Cuevas will initiate parent recruitment and education opportunities among the county’s migrant workers.

Trinca has been Eagle Valley Middle School’s principal for two years. He started with the district in 2008.

Ricci has been with the district since 1981, starting her career as a teacher at Red Sandstone Elementary School. After wearing the hat as interim principal at Red Sandstone, Gypsum Elementary School and Edwards Elementary School, Ricci has served as Red Sandstone’s principal since 1995.

Smith has been with the Eagle County school district since 1981, when he began his career as a speech/language therapist. In 1995, Smith became assistant principal of Eagle Valley Middle School. In January 2001, he stepped into the role as principal of Gypsum Creek Middle School, where he has remained.

Strakbein has been with the district since 1995, starting as a teacher at Battle Mountain High School. Strakbein was principal at Battle Mountain, Minturn Middle School and Red Canyon High School before taking the principal job at Eagle Valley High School in 2004.

Strakbein was named Colorado High School Principal of the Year in 2010.


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