In Sheridan: Parents petition to oust school superintendent

2012-07-05T00:00:00Z 2012-07-05T05:44:13Z In Sheridan: Parents petition to oust school superintendentBy Piper Haugan of The Montana Standard Montana Standard

Sheridan residents voicing their displeasure at the direction the community’s school district has taken are asking the current superintendent to resign through a petition.

One hundred forty voters or tax-payers in Sheridan and Alder signed the petition to “request in the strongest possible terms” that Sheridan School District Super-intendent Kim Harding resign immediately “based on (the signers’) belief of her incompetence and conduct harmful to the interest of the Sheridan School District.”

Harding, who was out of town and didn’t respond to telephone calls seeking comment on Tuesday, has served as superintendent for four years and has two years remaining on her contract.

Nearly a quarter of the number of people who voted locally in the June primaries signed the petition, which was created by Sheridan

resident Karen Talley. The number of signatures grew as word spread throughout town, she said.

A former teacher in the district who worked under Harding for three years wrote an email supporting the petition though she no longer lives in the district. “It was my feeling that Mrs. Harding was incompetent in dealing with her staff, students and parents,” the email said.

The district’s school board chair Rhonda Boyd said she learned about the petition for the first time in an email she received Tuesday afternoon. She said since Harding was out of town, she doesn’t think any action will be taken immediately. She said the board will be responsive to the community.

“We will listen to the people,” Boyd said. “That’s part of the deal.”

The district has endured the failure of two mill levies in two years. A year ago, residents voted down a tax levy that would’ve given the high school and elementary schools about $80,000 in additional funding for

operations, according to the Madisonian newspaper. This year, a levy worth $18,376 passed for the high school district, which includes the nearby community of Alder, but voters spiked a levy to generate $67,380 for the elementary school.

“There’s been a lot of growing unrest” within the community, faculty and parents in the district, Talley said, adding that many had come to not trust or have confidence in the superintendent. But she said that doesn’t necessarily reflect on people’s attitudes about the district as a whole.

“We have great teachers, great students, and a really good school system,” Talley said. “We want (the issues with Harding) addressed so we can heal and move forward.”

Reporter Piper Haugan: 496-5572, piper.haugan@mtstandard.com or Twitter.com/Piper_Haugan

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