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Charter school approves agreement for new director


Pagosa Peak Open School (PPOS) is set to have a new school director for next school year. 

At its regular meeting on Wednesday, May 15, the school’s board of directors unanimously voted to approve the first reading of the new school director employment agreement with Emily Murphy, who is currently serving as assistant school director. 

According to the agreement, for the 2024-2025 school year the school director position is offered a total compensation of $100,000. This includes a salary of $70,000 and a $10,000 benefits package. Also included in the agreement is a $20,000 administrative stipend fund.

During the meeting, PPOS treasurer Pamela Meade explained the reasoning for including the administrative stipend fund. The employment agreement contains an appendix that outlines all of the roles and responsibilities associated with the stipend fund. These include school safety work, substitute management, transportation management, school assessment coordinator, events and fundraising coordinator, intensives coordinator, gifted team leader (Destination Imagination) and secondary food program manager.

Meade explained that all of those roles are already included in the duties of the school director, but with the stipend fund the director will be able to have more individuals help with those roles if needed.

“At the end of the year if the decision was those stipends were not needed, and she was able to just do those duties on her own … those funds would then be given to her in the form of traditional salary,” Meade said.

She noted that Murphy worked collaboratively with her in coming up with the stipend fund option, and that she feels this is a “unique” and “creative” way to get more people involved who might have more expertise in certain areas.

Meade also mentioned that it is completely at the discretion of the director to retain the stipend or to use it in getting more people involved in specific matters.

“In conversations with Emily, there was other things that were really prioritized in her mind, maybe more so than what the monthly paycheck would look like, and we wanted to make sure that we retain that whole budget line item for the director job,” Meade said.

Board member Bill Hudson asked Murphy during the meeting if she is “OK with this,” to which Murphy confirmed that she would like to have the option to pull in additional help if needed.

“It gives us an opportunity to see where things go,” Meade added.

Board member Jesse White clarified that if the stipend is paid out at the end of the year to the director, it would be taxed as a salary and not as a bonus.

During the meeting, the board also discussed plans for a six-week transitional period, with current PPOS Director Angela Reali-Crossland stepping down at the end of this year and Murphy set to take over.

“I want to make sure that Emily feels empowered to make the decisions that she wants for next year. It’s hard to inherit the decisions that another director has made for you, and I experienced that,” Reali-Crossland said.

She explained that she would like to have Murphy brought up to full-time for the transition.

Murphy is currently working part-time as assistant director, Reali-Crossland explained.

Reali-Crossland also explained that the school is looking to have that transition partially funded by a grant from the state, but that she would also be open to using the school’s reserve funds.

“I think that even if it’s something that we’re pulling out of reserves, that it’s important for the future of the school and the transition to make Emily feel supported,” she said.

Hudson commented in favor, saying, “Works for me.”

Reali-Crossland explained that with Murphy taking on the extra hours, “she will be taking on some of those director roles and decisions.”

“It’s OK that she’ll make different decisions than I would, but I want to be here to be able to support those decisions and have that transition period,” she added.

“We are blessed with a transition that covers months,” said board president Lawrence Rugar. “I applaud that we are moving forward on this.”

Job descriptions

During the same meeting, the board also unanimously approved the first reading of a job description for the school’s restorative practices coordinator position.

Murphy explained she first applied for a grant to fund the position in February, which has been awarded.

“We found out last week that we were awarded $45,000 to fund that position for next year,” she said. “So, I’m excited.”

Murphy noted that PPOS will need to hire a new staff member instead of appointing a current staff member. 

“A lot of it will be working, not only with our restorative practices student board, but with staff and parents,” she added.

Murphy mentioned the board has talked about integrating opportunities to educate the community with the restorative practices coordinator and that “written into the grant is funding to support those types of events.”

The job will be posted as a 32-hour-per-week position with a salary range of $30,000 to $40,000, Meade explained.

She noted that the position could potentially turn into a full-time position if other funding becomes available.

A motion was made by Hudson to approve the description, which was seconded by White and unanimously approved by the board.

“Advertise it,” Hudson said.

Later in the meeting, the board also unanimously approved a second reading of a job description for a new English language arts advisor position. That position is also posted with a $30,000 to $40,000 salary range.

Board changes

The PPOS board welcomed a new member to the board, with Kathrine Siebel filling a vacant position. 

Siebel’s application to join as a board member was unanimously approved. 

Siebel’s term is for three years, through May of 2027, with the option to renew.

Rugar mentioned that Siebel has “great credentials.”

White also had his term renewed, which is set to last through May of 2027 as well.

“You’ve been a valuable member of the board,” Rugar said.

Board member Elly Osmera submitted her resignation from the board, but mentioned that she will be staying on the playground committee.

The PPOS board now has two open positions.

Rugar’s term is set to expire in May of 2026, Meade’s term is set to expire in May of 2025 and Hudson’s term is set to expire in May of 2025.