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ViewSHERIDAN SCHOOL DISTRICT 2
Board of Education Recap April 11th, 2018

News from Sheridan School District No. 2

Contact: Mark Stevens

mstevens@ssd2.org

303-495-8699 (mobile) • 720-328-5488 (office)

 

News Release

April 11, 2018

Juanita Camacho Appointed to Represent District B; Seat Filled for First Time Since 2007

 

Sheridan Board of Education president Bernadette Saleh, following state law, appointed Juanita Camacho to represent District B on the Sheridan Board of Education. The action brought the board up to its full capacity of five members for the first time since 2007.

The appointment and announcement was made at the start of the board’s regular meeting Tuesday, April 10. Camacho immediately took the oath of office and took her place on the board dais. Camacho’s term expires in November, 2019. She would need to seek re-election if she chooses to do so at that time.

Camacho initially applied earlier this year but the board, in the middle of a superintendent search process, decided to delay bringing her on board.

“We have operated for more than a decade with less than a full board of directors, despite appeals and campaigns from time to time to find potential candidates,” said Saleh in making the announcement. “For that reason, we are very pleased that Juanita has stepped forward and we are very pleased that we will now function with a full, five-member board.”

A longtime resident of Sheridan, Camacho’s children attended and graduated from Sheridan schools.  

Board president Saleh also announced that the board will soon schedule a special meeting to discuss next steps and a timeline on the superintendent search process. That meeting will be open to the public. The board interviewed three finalists earlier this month. No consensus emerged on which candidate to offer the job.

Potential Changes to School Finance Law

Chief Operations Officer Kristen Colonell outlined potential changes to the Colorado state laws that govern school finance and focused on one bill, House Bill 1232 that is backed by 171 of the 178 school superintendents statewide.

If approved in its current form, said Colonell, Sheridan would see an increase of revenue of nearly $4 million, a nearly 30 percent increase in the district’s general fund budget.

The proposal would ensure that all districts receive additional funding in a more fair and equitable manner to support current academic standards and accountability systems, said Colonell. Based on student needs, the new formula would better serve all students, particularly those who are currently underserved and those who face the greatest challenges finishing high school prepared for college or a career.

The current school finance system, adopted in 1994, has been underfunded for years. The proposed formula, said Colonell, is a “student-centric” formula that starts with a base cost for all students and then makes adjustments based on student needs. The proposal tied to an initiative on the November ballot that would raise $1.6 billion through a graduated income tax and affect the highest 8 percent of the state’s earners.

Superintendent Michael Clough acknowledged that the broad backing by superintendents may be causing some “angst” among legislators, who may prefer to find their own solution. Superintendent Clough said the bill faces “tough sledding” as it moves through the legislative process.

Short-term Disability & Health Insurance Premiums

Sheridan will phase out the use of a decades-old “sick bank,” used to let employees help each other out when it comes to taking a short-term leave for medical emergencies or medical needs. 

Participation in the bank has dwindled dramatically, Chief Operations Officer Kristen Colonell told the board, and the district will move to a short-term disability insurance product sold by the private sector. Use of the policy will begin on July 1. Colonell said staff will be briefed in meetings around the district. 

The district is facing a major increase in its health insurance premiums. Due to an extremely heavy claim rate—130 percent of premiums paid—Kaiser Permanente will increase Sheridan’s health insurance rate next year by 15 percent. The rate at which Sheridan employees and family members are using health insurance is so high, she said, that other carriers will not offer a bid on the business. 

Recruitment Continues

Superintendent Clough reviewed out-of-state trips to Michigan and Texas to recruit teachers. He also noted that the University of Northern Colorado, which produced 1,600 teacher candidates in the md-1980’s, this year graduated 400-450 teachers looking for work. Across the state, said Clough, there were only 88 teachers graduated who are capable of teaching secondary mathematics and Denver Public Schools alone needs to hire 160 to keep pace.

Expedited Teacher Contracts

Sheridan will institute a new process to accelerate the process of issuing contracts to new teachers. The process allows staff to tender the contracts and not wait for formal board approval. The new process includes the right to fine a teacher who signs the contract and then changes his or her mind. Too many teacher spots have gone empty at the start of the school year, said Superintendent Clough, because teachers are shopping around for the best deal. Superintendent Clough said it will be important to follow-through on the fine and not make it an empty threat. 

Sheridan High School

Principal Shirley Miles gave the board an upbeat update on progress on Sheridan High School. Principal Miles noted that the changing context today, “that the marketplace of products and ideas is increasingly global” and that competition for skilled labor is increasingly stiff. Effective teachers make the most difference in improving student academic performance, said Miles, and for every child to succeed a school must hold students and staff to high expectations. Miles said Sheridan High School is focusing on continuous improvement in every area.

All the objectives for mathematics under the school’s Unified Improvement Plan have been accomplished, said Miles, and work remains in writing and with the prep classes for college-entrance exams.

Miles noted that that tardy rates (students late to class) have dropped by nearly 40 percent in 2018 (compared to the same period in 2017). At the same time, in the third quarter of the academic year there were 53 percent fewer D’s and F’s given by teachers when compared to last year. 

Adding 25 additional classes, said Miles, gave students more opportunities to be successful; particularly in math with the addition of pre-Algebra and Algebra 2AA and 2BB. The emphasis on accountability for both students and staff contributed to the improvements, she said. Those accountability steps included requiring that lesson plans be submitted and reviewed, increasing observations and walkthroughs, conferencing with students concerning their grades and increasing parent communication.

Solidifying the school’s processes and procedures will help us have a smooth start in the fall of 2018, concluded Miles.

 

Public Forum

A variety of speakers, some from the Sheridan Educators Association and some from a group known as Sheridan Rising Together for Equity, urged the board, sometimes in vehement fashion, to select a particular superintendent candidate. The meeting was held in the cafeteria at the Early Childhood Center to accommodate the large turnout of community participation. Other speakers thanked the board for their work as volunteers and urged that the selection process result in a superintendent candidate who is the best fit for Sheridan and will work for the interests of all students in the district.

Consent Agenda

All consent agenda items were approved.

About Sheridan School District 2

Located southwest of Denver, Sheridan School District 2 seeks high-level post-secondary options for all students through continuous improvement of quality instruction. More: www.ssd2.org

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Sheridan School District NO.2
4150 South Hazel Court
Englewood, Colorado 80110
email: info@ssd2.org
phone: (720) 833-6991
fax: (720) 833-6650