Letters to the editor
I wanted to take this opportunity to correct some misinformation regarding teacher turnover in Eagle County schools.This fall, Eagle County Schools hired 71 new teachers. Those positions were open for the following reasons:– 10 retirements. Last May 10 long-time teachers from Eagle County Schools retired. Changes to the Colorado Public Employee Retirement Association (PERA, think of this as Social Security for government employees) law resulted in large financial incentives for employees to take advantage of retirement benefits sooner rather than later. These employees all received exit interview questionnaires when they announced their retirements and none of them cited the Teacher Advancement Program as their reason for leaving.– Three leaves of absence. We hired three teachers to replace people who applied for and received one-year leaves of absence.– 13 growth/grant positions. These are new jobs created by increased enrollment or by new programs. — 16 contract non-renewals. These openings were created when the Eagle County School District decided not to renew contracts to previous employees.– 29 resignations. These are openings resulting in the employee’s decision not to return. Only three teachers stated that the Teacher Advancement Program was the reason for their resignations.Several callers to Tipsline have incorrectly indicated that there is a vast exodus of teachers resulting from the Teacher Advancement Program. When teachers resign, as when they retire, they are given the opportunity to complete an exit interview. Of the 29 resignations last spring, three teachers cited TAP as the reason they choose to leave Eagle County schools. Eight cited Eagle County’s high cost of living, five cited the desire to leave the work force to start a family, four were offered other positions, three cited difficulty in finding child care, two indicated that Eagle County schools’ expectations for teachers are too high, and one cited “relationship with supervisor.” Three resigning employees choose not to participate in the exit interview process.As an aside, last year’s 29 resignations represent an 8 percent turnover rate. That is the lowest turnover rate since 1997-98. In 1998-99, the turnover rate was 10 percent, in 1999-00 it was 17 percent, in 2000-01, it was 17.4 percent, in 2001-02 it was 8.5 percent and in 2002-03 it was 10.5 percent.Eagle County schools do anticipate four principal openings this spring. None of these openings are tied to the Teacher Advancement Program. Chris Mayhew of Brush Creek Elementary, Nancy Ricci of Red Sandstone Elementary, and AnnMarie Sanders of Eagle Valley Elementary all announced their intended retirements last year. While we are sorry to see these elementary principals leave our schools, each one of these individuals has more than 30 years of service to Eagle County schools and individually they have decided to take advantage of current retirement benefits through PERA. This week, Mark Bullock of Battle Mountain High School announced his intention to leave Eagle County Schools to develop a rugby program for the city of Glendale. We welcome anyone with questions about teacher turnover to contact us so we can clarify the issue. Thank you for this opportunity to set the record straight.Pam BoydEagle County Schools Communications CoordinatorFries with that?Paul Weister is anything but your typical hospital chef. In fact, it is almost uncontestable that the Vail Valley Medical Center has the best hospital menu in the nation. Not only are the flavors unwaveringly delightful and consistent, Paul always serves them up with a side dish of cheer. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is or even if it is during his lunch break. Paul always has good humor and kindness to share with everyone. He is one of the most giving and selfless people you will ever meet and seems to know just how much of a helping you need each day. I first ran into Paul 19 years ago in Chapel Hill, N.C., where he owned and operated THE late night eatery, Hector’s. The scene at Hector’s was higher voltage, but the friendly and respectful atmosphere was similar to what we enjoy at Remedies Cafe. Coincidentally, quite a few of the now grown-up late-night college kids who enjoyed Hector’s now live here in the Vail Valley (yes, the EXACT SAME Greek gyros are still available but only after 2:45).Paul always had a contagious wry smile and a wisecrack ready to go. His uncompromising wit has remained individualized and never repeated. Harmonious order despite the rush is the rule under Paul’s direction, and he always manages to have a fantastic group of people around him. Paul’s training extended far past the realm of Hector’s. He has made significant contributions at arguably some of the finest eateries in the country. Paul’s personal integrity and high spirits continue to shine in his work here at Vail Valley.We are fortunate to have the culinary expertise of this unique individual available to us. Even more importantly, we are truly blessed to have his personality so genuinely available whenever we need salvation. Thanks so much for your tireless efforts and happy thirty-ninth birthday Paul. We all greatly appreciate you being at the heart of it.Austin YearganAvonVail, Colorado
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As Jason Varnish hung from a Vail chairlift in February, eventually dying of positional asphyxia, the lone lift operator yelled to witnesses that he was not able to reverse the lift without permission, according to a Sheriff’s Office incident report released Wednesday.