School superintendent will step down after current two-year term
by David Boyle
School Superintendent Ron Nielson announced his intentions to resign from the San Juan School District at the end of his current contract at the November 9 meeting of the school board.
Nielson read a letter to the board near the start of the meeting.
“After much thought and reflection, I want to inform the San Juan School District Board of Education that I will officially resign from my position of superintendent of schools on August 31, 2023.
“Though that is still a few months away I inform the board this night so that you have all options available to you in your efforts to select the next superintendent of schools. I do publicly thank the board of education for your support and trust in me.
“Each day I’ve tried to do my best to help move the district forward and I will continue this commitment until my last day has come. The district is so fortunate to have such quality staff.
“I will always value my relationship with those who strive each day to best serve our students. Team San Juan is full of dedicated hard-working individuals who rarely ask for credit or attention. I thank them for their support and friendship.
“Finally, I can’t end without expressing my love and appreciation for my wife. It’s been so helpful in this position to go home each night to my best friend and greatest support for nearly 34 years she’s stood by my side and inspired me to believe in myself.
“I have always found San Juan School District to be a high-integrity organization that I could be proud to be a part of. It has been a great honor to lead such a quality organization for the past five years and something that I will always cherish.”
At the meeting, Nielson reported on the implementation of the districts’ quality teacher incentive program or QTIP for river region schools.
The program was intended to address the lack of experienced teachers located in River Region schools. Data shows that the program has been successful.
Nielson showed that in the 2016-2017 school year elementary school teachers with 14-plus years of experience made up about half of the faculties in mountain region schools in Blanding, La Sal, and Monticello while making up less than 15 percent of faculty at schools in Montezuma Creek, seven-percent at Tse’biinidzisgai, and zero-percent at Bluff Elementary.
Over the past five years since the adoption of the QTIP program 50 percent of teachers at Montezuma Creek, 64 percent of teachers at Tse’biinidzisgai, and 20 percent of teachers at Bluff elementary school have 14+ years of experience.
Nielson also reported the program is working to retain those teachers while also continuing to grow the teaching pool as the district has hired four teachers who completed training at local programs.
Members of the school board were also shown a first proposal of the academic school calendar for the 2023/2024 school year. District HR specialist Laura Palmer outlined that the calendar is similar to the current year but noted that spring break lines up with the Utah State University spring break.
Maughan asked for a teacher survey to see if teachers prefer three workdays with no students in class before the start of the school year or two school days before the start of the year with one workday following spring break.
During the board meeting members of the board also adopted a new mission statement. The adoption came a month after members of the district leadership team made up of district staff, principals and teachers presented a new vision statement for the school district.
The mission statement was crafted over several months of meetings by members of the district leadership team and reads:
“San Juan School District’s QUEST is to weave together critical knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will empower all students to lead meaningful lives, engage civically, and advocate for themselves and their communities”
The board recognized Bluff Elementary employee Tammy Black with the San Juan Sweet Job award.