Interim Superintendent Bowman gets job on full-time basis after board vote

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SHIPROCK — The Central Consolidated School District has appointed Colleen Bowman as the district's new superintendent after approving a $110,000 buyout of former superintendent Don Levinski's contract.

The district's Board of Education voted on the approval of Levinski's contract buyout and offered Bowman the superintendent position during a special board meeting tonight in the district's board room here.

The CCSD board voted 3-2 to place Levinski on paid administrative leave during an Aug. 18, 2015, meeting. During the same meeting, former Supervisor of Schools Bowman was selected as interim superintendent.

After the meeting, board President Randy Manning declined comment on why the board decided to remove Levinski from the superintendent position.

In an interview before today's meeting, Levinski's attorney Eleanor K. Bratton said the 17-month process to remove him from the superintendent position was a long and difficult ordeal for him. She added that Levinski is pleased with the result.

When asked what the board's reasoning was for ending Levinski's contract, Bratton said the board members brought a list of about 56 items that was basically a rehash of every personnel and administrative decision he made as superintendent.

Levinski started working for the district on Aug. 1, 2007, as principal of Tsé Bit’a’í Middle School in Shiprock. When former Superintendent Gregg Epperson was placed on paid administrative leave in May 2011, Levinski was appointed acting superintendent.

Epperson's contract was settled for $200,000 in December 2011. Levinski was then selected as superintendent during a Feb. 7, 2012, board meeting.

The $110,000 buyout of Levinski's contract was determined through a case in district court.

Judge Daylene Marsh issued a stipulated judgment on Jan. 3 that approved the amount, according to court paperwork. Both parties are required to pay for their own expenses, including attorneys' fees.

Bowman said she was happy the board offered her the superintendent position, and she is looking forward to implementing a number of initiatives she has been planning as interim superintendent.

Bowman hopes to bring some stability to the district after what she described as 18 months of chaos.

"She is well qualified,' Manning said about the selection of Bowman as superintendent. "She's got a heart and loves the kids."

Her salary is $125,000 annually and runs through June 30, 2018, according to Manning.

Bowman has worked for the district for about 12 years in a variety of positions, including director of human resources, Indian education director and exceptional programs director. She earned a doctorate in educational management and development from New Mexico State University.

Bowman said she will focus on plans to improve the district's high school graduation rates. The district's graduation rate for the 2015-2016 school year was 63 percent, according to the New Mexico Public Education Department. The statewide graduation rate was 71 percent, according to state education data.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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