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Board of Education Recap October 25th, 2017

News from Sheridan School District No. 2

Contact: Mark Stevens


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

News Release

Oct. 25, 2017

Sheridan Schools’ Facility Needs Identified

Earlier this year, Sheridan School District 2’s Facility Master Plan Committee began work on a new assessment of the district’s facility needs.

At the board meeting last night (Tuesday, Oct. 24), committee leaders said the group is close to wrapping up its work and will make recommendations to the Sheridan Board of Education in the next couple of months.

The committee is starting to talk about conclusions to its analysis, said Aimee LaLone, from WOLD Architects & Engineers, and looking for what is “rising to the top” as the critical issues to be addressed. The committee, comprised of community members, parents, and staff, has been meeting since March.

At the meeting last night, LaLone presented an overview of each school’s general facility health. While the 2012 voter-backed bond and state BEST grant led to upgrades across the district, including the construction of Fort Logan Northgate School, a host of challenges remain for other existing facilities, particularly at the high school.

Issues at Sheridan High School, Alice Terry Elementary School and at the building that houses both SOAR Academy and the Early Childhood Center include site drainage concerns, gyms and lockers in poor condition, roof leaks, inadequate fire sprinkler coverage, building code issues, asbestos, way-finding and signage, confusing entryways, bathrooms, all-school gathering spaces, sub-par kitchens, technology needs, cracking masonry, outdated interior finishes, and gloomy spaces, among others.

LaLone said the committee has worked to establish criteria for prioritizing needs. Those criteria include that facilities should be safe, welcoming and inspiring; that the schools should highlight “what is unique about Sheridan;” and that schools should “embrace” and “prepare” for the future. She added that the committee believes the quality of the schools “should show students that they are valued.”

Superintendent Michael Clough and Cyndi Wright, Director of Facilities and Transportation, noted that the Colorado Department of Education has also completed a review of Sheridan’s facilities as part of a statewide review of school facility conditions. That report is due soon.

PERA Troubles

Superintendent Michael Clough told the board this week that looming changes to the state’s retirement system, known as PERA, will have an impact on individual employees and the district budget as a whole. The changes must be approved by the Colorado State Legislature.

Superintendent Clough characterized the proposed changes as “dramatic.”

Under the PERA board proposal, employees and employers would see their contribution rates increase; benefits would be lowered; and changes would be made in how service credit is calculated.

For one example, PERA members hired before Jan. 1, 2020 would see an increase from 8 percent to 11 percent in their contributions to the retirement system. All members hired after Jan. 1, 2020 would contribute 10 percent of their pay.

Also, employer contributions would increase by 2 percent. That would cost the district an additional $160,000 each year, said Chief Operations Officer Kristen Colonell.

The proposed changes may also affect bond ratings for school districts, said Superintendent Clough, due to the increased financial liability.

The PERA board recently announced that “core assumptions” about providing retirement benefits needed to reduce the amount of time it would take PERA to become fully funded.

CASB Delegate Assembly

Board member Sally Daigle reported on her recent involvement in the 2017 Delegate Assembly for the Colorado Association of School Boards. Daigle said the assembly attendees were also concerned about the PERA crisis. The assembly approved a resolution that urged the state “to undertake all necessary steps to ensure that PERA remains a sustainable and effective vehicle to provide retirement benefits to its member employees and ensure the financial burden placed on PERA employers does not become a barrier to hiring employees.”

Among many other resolutions that were considered, said Daigle, the assembly supported one that urged repeal of the Claire-Davis Act, a law that removed governmental immunity for school districts and held them responsible for school shootings or similar disasters.

Bi-Literate Diploma

Superintendent Clough said the district is involved with a pilot program to establish a “Bi-Literate diploma” at Sheridan High School and SOAR Academy. The diploma would certify both a student’s academic mastery and his or her skills (reading, writing and speaking) with the Spanish language. A committee is working on the proposed standards for the diploma, he said, and will bring a proposal to the board soon.

Old Chicago

Superintendent Clough thanked Old Chicago for a $1,200 check, donated to the district for the involvement of Sheridan employees’ involvement in the restaurant’s first anniversary party. “They are a wonderful partner,” he said.

Pupil Count

Previous projections that the district’s enrollment will be down 89 students this year were off, said Superintendent Clough. At this point, he said, the number appears to be “even worse,” between 115 and 120 students overall.

Employee Absences

Chief Operations Officer Colonell told the board that the district is looking into changes in the district’s policies for compensating employees who retire or leave the district and who have accrued unused sick leave. Formulas for determining that level of compensation are complicated, she said, and change based on hire date (before or after 2003) and number of years of service. Sick-leave payoffs for longer-term employees can average between $7,000 and $9,000, she said. The district is exploring the idea of providing short-term disability insurance to all employees as an alternative, she said.

SOAR Lunches

The district is providing hot breakfasts and lunches for students at SOAR Academy one day a week (currently on Wednesdays) and that service may soon expand to Fridays, Colonell told the board. Only about eight students eat breakfast at the school and 20 to 25 eat lunch, she said, but the district is working to expand the variety of offerings while minimizing waste.

Thank You

During public comment, Sheridan Mayor Dallas Hall thanked the Sheridan Board of Education and district staff for the support of the 2017 edition of Sheridan Celebrates, held in late September. Hall, who is stepping down after eight years as mayor following elections next month, praised the cooperation between the city and the schools. “I just really appreciate the relationship the city has had the past eight years with the school board. I will always be a supporter of Sheridan Schools.”

Mathematics Improvements at Fort Logan Northgate

Fort Logan Northgate School assistant principal Beth Joswick and University of Colorado Denver professor Ron Tzur presented results of work on mathematics instruction in grades three, four, and five. Recently, teachers in those grades have been provided with professional development around an approach called Adaptive Pedagogy that looks at precise student mastery of essential mathematics concepts, particularly abilities with multiplication and fractions. Last year, seven of 12 teachers participated in the professional development. This year, all teachers will participate. The effort, part of a collaboration with UCD that is funded by the National Science Foundation, seeks to tailor classroom goals and activities to the current student needs.

Joswick showed the board a series of charts demonstrating significant progress. Prior to the work, 34 percent of students solved a problem that predicted a student’s ability to solve “place-value, base ten” problems. That jumped to 60 percent after the teacher training. Professor Tzur said that is almost to the level of Chinese students, considered masters in mathematics education. Another analysis using a control group also demonstrated significant improvement.

Joswick called the results “super powerful.”

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