Eagle County Schools president after ouster of superintendent: ‘Remain calm’ | VailDaily.com

Eagle County Schools president after ouster of superintendent: ‘Remain calm’

Dr. Carlos Ramirez started with Eagle County schools last summer. His tenure ended Wednesday with a unanimous vote of the school board. The board says it plans to have a new superintendent in place by the beginning of the next school year.
Randy Wyrick | randy@vaildaily.com

EAGLE — A day after Eagle County Schools’ seven-member board unanimously decided that Dr. Carlos Ramirez would no longer be superintendent just eight months after being hired, board president Kate Cocchiarella attempted to reassure parents and taxpayers.

“Remain calm,” Cocchiarella said. “We have a strategic plan for the district and for each of the schools.”

She said that the people who have been teaching Eagle County kids — the principals, administrators and teachers in schools — still are.

“We are doing deep work to make the changes we want. We’re trying to make those changes thoughtfully and mindfully to try to bring everyone along with us,” Cocchiarella said. “This is all work we’ve been doing step by step by step. We want to do what’s right for the kids and the community. We value the community support, the trust and confidence, and we’re grateful for it.”

The decision to split with Ramirez opened Wednesday’s board meeting. Many of those same members voted unanimously last March to hire Ramirez, when he was an assistant superintendent in the Houston Independent School District.

“He had a lot of skills that were not compatible with our needs. We truly hope he finds a place where his skills can be best used,” Cocchiarella said.

Back at it early

By 8 a.m. Thursday school board members were in the district’s main office in Eagle, meeting with the administrative staff.

The meeting was designed to take input from the staff and answer questions … such as, “What’s next?”

For now, the school board plans to appoint an interim superintendent at its next meeting, Feb. 13, at Red Canyon West High School. Whether that interim is someone from inside or outside the district remains to be determined, Cocchiarella said.

As for replacing Ramirez, the board won’t waste much time.

“We intend to have a permanent superintendent in place by the new school year,” Cocchiarella said.

The district will use the same search firm, Chicago-based Hazard, Young, Attea. Because Ramirez didn’t last the year, HYA will be required to lead the search for his replacement for free, according to the contract.

Ramirez had a three-year contract. The school board negotiated a one-year buyout when it hired him, instead of a three-year buyout, hence the $195,000 buyout and six months of health insurance payments.

“We are very mindful about how we spend taxpayer money,” Cocchiarella said.

Wednesday’s school board meeting was lightly attended — just a few students observing and a woman who praised the district for the way it handled recent bomb threats.

The meeting wrapped by 7:30 p.m.

Staff matters more

Superintendents matter, but the team matters more, Cocchiarella said.

There is a strategic plan in place for the district and for each of the schools. The principals and school staff members will bring those plans to fruition, Cocchiarella said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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