Candidate wants to re-engage public

Former HR director aims for change on school board

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Former Douglas County School District Human Resources Director Bill Hodges wants to serve the district again, this time as a school-board member.

Hodges is seeking to unseat incumbent candidate Doug Benevento from the District E seat in the November election.

If he’s successful, Hodges aims to help take the board in a new direction, which includes undoing some current policies and practices.

“We need to put the public back into public education,” Hodges said. “Unless you agree with the board and their political agenda, they have shut down all of that comment. (The board is) conducting over 50 percent of their school business in executive session. And that’s not right. There also needs to be a better account for fiscal transparency.”

Hodges criticizes the current leadership for accumulating what he sees as an excessively high unrestricted fund balance, “and yet you’re increasing class size, lowering graduation requirements and not hiring as many teachers as you possibly could.”

Credit-rating agency Fitch listed the district’sunrestricted fund balance at $86.7 million in February 2013. DCSD defends that reserve by noting its unassigned fund balance — money not already tagged for other uses — is about $17 million, consistent with the board’s 4 percent reserve policy.

Hodges also is opposed to DCSD’s market-based pay system, which bases teacher salaries in large part on how hard to fill each position is.

He also would like to re-institute a districtwide satisfaction survey, and also tie the superintendent’s evaluation to a staff and community survey.

The Texas native and father of two grown children moved to Castle Pines with a job transfer in 1987. He worked in the private sector for 28 years before joining DCSD in 2001 as a human resources director, which was followed by his 2002 promotion to assistant superintendent of human resources. Hodges retired from DCSD in July 2011, a decision he said was prompted by family issues and not by any problems with DCSD.

His wife, Ginger, worked as a DCSD elementary-school teacher for 22 years before her 2011 retirement.

During his time with the human resources department, Hodges helped negotiate the annual collective bargaining agreement with the Douglas County Federation of Teachers.

In 2012, after 47 years, the agreement expired after more than 100 hours of negotiation between DCSD and the teachers’ union.

Hodges said his experiences with the union were pleasant.

“This was the most non-adversarial collective bargaining group I have ever worked with,” he said. “They truly were our partners, and they advocated that they didn’t want a bad teacher in front of our kids in the district any more than we did.”

In the mid-1990s, Hodges said he also served as a community member on a committee that created the district’s first pay-for-performance program.

“It was one of the first pay-for-performance programs across the country,” he said. “What is new is the new design and the way the board has decided to implement it.”

DCSD recently created a new evaluation program and introduced it in 2012.

Despite Hodges’ concern about many of the recent changes in DCSD, he’s not completely opposed to all of them.

“It’s not that some of the stuff they want to do is necessarily out of whack,” he said. “But it’s too fast, and they’re not asking for input. Teachers and employees are living in fear. They don’t feel supported or heard.”