Pat Sandos, center, has retired as Sheridan’s superintendent but will continue to draw his salary and lead the district for another year, starting in July. (Courtesy of Sheridan School District)

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The Sheridan school district has no superintendent this month — and no clear plan to open a search.

Some board members want to appoint the internal candidate recommended by the departing superintendent, Pat Sandos. That proposal has divided the board, with one member accusing the board president of trying to bribe her to go along. 

Meanwhile, the board has agreed to pay Sandos his full salary for a transition year starting in July, even though he’s officially retired as of May 31. Community members have launched a petition to terminate Sandos’ extension. For too long, they say, the district has overlooked and ignored the needs of parents and students, and it’s time for new leadership. 

The district on Denver’s southwest edge serves about 1,100 students, including a large percentage from low-income families or identified as homeless. Like many in the metro area, the district is struggling with declining enrollment, which means less revenue and tighter budgets. The teachers union is seeking raises similar to those neighboring districts have agreed to, but negotiations have stalled. Meanwhile, teachers and parents alike report high turnover and important positions sitting vacant. 

Alejandra Balderrama, a Sheridan parent, got involved in the petition requesting the current superintendent leave sooner because she’s concerned about staff turnover, especially the sudden departure of the elementary school principal after the school was recognized for students’ exceptional academic growth.

“I really don’t find that to be fair,” Balderrama said. 

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Yesenia Robles is Chalkbeat Colorado’s Suburban Reporter looking at changes happening in Denver’s suburban school districts. Yesenia grew up in Denver, graduated from CU Boulder and is fluent in Spanish. She previously covered suburbs, education...