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Romer Becomes Superintendent, and Belmont Complex Scandal Refuses to Die Down

An old scandal wouldn’t go away, and a new superintendent struggled to make his mark.

In January, the Board of Education tried to move beyond the embarrassment of the Belmont Learning Complex, voting to abandon the downtown-area high school that was being built on an oil field that seeped toxic gases.

But a coalition of community groups and political leaders kept the controversy alive, pressing for renewed consideration.

As Belmont festered, Interim Supt. Ramon C. Cortines fashioned a reorganization plan that split the 723,000-student district into 11 pieces, shifting hundreds of bureaucrats out of the downtown headquarters.

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Former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, the only one of five finalists who unequivocally wanted the job, became the superintendent in July.

The articulate, hard-driving Romer has found the going tough. He wrangled over a teachers’ contract with no result yet, struggled to maintain a focus on instruction while getting a school-building program off the ground and grew exasperated over the political stalemate gripping Belmont.

As the year drew to a close, there were some hopeful signs. A successful lawsuit regarding state apportioning of construction funds restored hundreds of millions of dollars for new schools, and the board agreed to invite private sector proposals that could lead to Belmont’s being either opened or sold.


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