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As the Stomach Turns; Another Rumor in D60

July 27, 2008

By Steve Henson, The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo.

Jul. 27–If Pueblo City Schools Superintendent John Covington has any plans to close Central High School, he might as well simultaneously turn in his resignation.

And he’d better take the red-eye out of Colorado while he’s at it.

Closing Central isn’t in the plans for the district, however, so all of those who bleed blue-and-white can just calm down a bit.

In a vivid display of how a rumor can fuel hysteria, a large group of worried Central boosters, including some teachers, showed up at Tuesday’s school board meeting. They had been misinformed — many by e-mail — that the school was going to be closed.

Never mind that Covington had met several weeks ago with Central social studies teacher Lois Conatore and former Central Principal John Rivas to tell them directly that there were no plans to close the venerable old school. Further, Covington said, because of the school’s rich history, it would be the last school to be closed if any high schools were to be shuttered.

That didn’t stop the rumors. So the group showed up, Conatore read a statement, district officials again said there was nothing to the rumor — Stephanie Garcia, Central alumna and school board president, held up her Central letter jacket for emphasis — and that was that.

But not quite.

After hearing that they had gotten worked up about nothing, the group should have stood up en masse and like Roseanne Rosannadanna, said: “Never mind,” and walked out the door.

Instead, board member Kathy DeNiro said that the size of the crowd and credibility of the rumor indicated a “trust issue” for the district.

Maybe.

Perhaps the teachers and staff don’t trust the board and administration; maybe the administration and school board don’t trust the staff to be willing to make changes.

Get over it. The community is sick and tired of the soap opera that for years has been District 60, Pueblo City Schools, the Intergalactic-Class School District, or whatever the heck it wants to call itself these days.

We got sick of it during the Pacheco-Koveleski/Rodosevich/Bales wars, and hoped that with a new superintendent in place, everybody would just work together to improve our schools.

And that’s what we — and I think I’m speaking for a lot of people in the community who don’t work for the school district — want: better schools.

There’s no doubt that teachers are working hard, as are the superintendent and school board. What we are not so sure of is whether both sides are working together.

If not, then there’s a much bigger issue than trust. And that is, turf has become more important than kids.

The vast majority of teachers work hard, spend their own money on school supplies, and desperately want every kid to succeed.

At the same time, school board members sacrifice significant time away from family and careers to serve the community, all the time doing it for free. And I have never met a superintendent whose main goal is to make life miserable for teachers or to make it difficult for children to learn.

It doesn’t speak well for an institution that so many people can get so angry about a rumor.

Whether it’s paranoia or a matter of trust, it ultimately doesn’t matter.

The community has had enough of the drama.

Steve Henson is The Pueblo Chieftain’s managing editor. He can be reached at 544-0006, ext. 410; or online at shenson@chieftain.com.

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Copyright (c) 2008, The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo.

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