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Board of Education Meeting Work Session Recap November 28th, 2018

News from Sheridan School District No. 2

Contact: Mark Stevens mstevens@ssd2.org

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

 

News Release

Nov. 28, 2018

Superintendent Pat Sandos Details Agenda for Academic Plan, Infrastructure Repairs, Technology Upgrades, and Safety Improvements

 

During the Board of Education work session this week (Nov. 27), Superintendent Pat Sandos and district staff outlined a broad agenda for sharpening classroom instruction and implementing other major district improvements.

Superintendent Sandos emphasized that the work will be significantly bolstered by the additional $3 million mill levy ballot initiative, approved by Sheridan voters on Nov. 6, and pledged a cautious approach to spending the new resources.  Formal certification of the ballot results, Sandos noted, are still pending from Arapahoe County election officials. The unofficial results show the mill levy winning easily. Sandos said both general fund and mill levy resources will be used to support the new initiatives. 

Sandos said the district is in the process of implementing a series of changes, some of which began before the new school year. 

The work will focus on getting a few things right, particularly ensuring students are on grade level by the time they exit third grade.  “I’ve got this huge sense of urgency,” said Sandos. “Being purposeful sometimes loses its way because we get too complex. We forget what our job is.”

The review of the action steps ahead drew praise from board members.  “Good job,” said board member Daniel Stange. “I am impressed. You have covered a lot of ground.” 

 

As outlined, the plan calls for:

  • Establishing a viable curriculum framework that is aligned to standards. (This work began with the arrival and implementation of Beyond Textbooks earlier this year.)
  • Establishing a district expectation for a quality caring and competent teacher in every classroom. This will involve training in cultural competency for all staff as well as strengthening formative assessment practice in the classroom.
  • Establishing strong instructional leadership in all schools and district offices. Again, this also involves cultural competency training.
  • Adding additional instructional support in kindergarten through third grade, with educators trained in literacy and numeracy. Unless students are on grade level by third grade, said Sandos, educators will be “fighting an uphill” battle for the rest of a student’s academic career.  These new educators, he said, will not be used for playground duty or simple classroom chores but will focus on instruction, including planning alongside teachers using new learning strategies. “If we don’t approach literacy and numeracy differently, we’re going to get what we’ve got,” said Sandos.
  • Bolstering schools with improved libraries, particularly restoring a strong library and instructional media center at Sheridan High School, with a heavy emphasis on improving students’ online research skills and improving student capacity to be responsible digital citizens and scholars.
  • Bringing teacher and staff salaries in line with neighboring districts to improve the district’s competitiveness for teaching talent and retain teachers, too. Chief Financial Officer Kristen Colonell said implementing Jeffco Public Schools’ salary schedule would cost approximately $400,000. However, Jeffco voters recently approved a mill levy package in part to remain competitive with salaries and the final cost to Sheridan could be higher than $400,000. 
  • Making facility repairs including drainage issues at Alice Terry Elementary School and the district stadium; a new roof for the building that houses both SOAR Academy and the Early Childhood Center; and converting to LED lights across the district.  
  • Conducting an audit of all district technology hardware and technology systems and selecting appropriate upgrades to support classroom instruction.
  • Conducting an audit of safety and security systems with an eye toward upgrading security cameras, radio systems, and badging procedures for school visitors. Additional security staff for schools may also be considered.
  • Implementing district-wide program evaluation. “We will look at all of our programs to see what is working, what to keep, and what to eliminate,” said Sandos.

Language, Culture & Equity—New Teacher Requirements

Christine Muldoon, the district’s new Director of Language, Culture and Equity, outlined how the district will support teachers in meeting new requirements from the Colorado Department of Education. The new requirements tie directly with the district’s new focus on Culturally Responsive Education and the district’s new plan for academic improvements. 

New rules this year require educators with elementary, math, science, social studies and English language arts endorsements to complete a “Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Education” training or professional development. These teachers must complete the new licensing requirement with their next five-year license renewal period. 

Sheridan School District, said Muldoon, will kick off the District new focus on Culturally

Responsive Education with an opportunity for teachers to attend a talk by distinguished Professor Pedro Noguera at neighboring Littleton Public Schools on January 7. Noguera has an extensive background in education and is presently a Distinguished Professor of Education at UCLA. His message focuses on how equity can lead to excellence. He recently coauthored Excellence Through Equity. To earn professional development credit, Sheridan teachers who attend the talk can write up a summary on what they learned from the workshop and how it relates to their classroom practice.

Throughout January, staff will be invited to a book study of Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain which will delve deeper into the equity issues Pedro Noguera surfaces.

The District is also is collaborating with the International Consortium for Multilingual Excellence in Education and the University of Colorado at Denver to offer two online courses for K-12 teachers.

Early Childhood Center – Learning Walk

Earlier Tuesday, board members toured the Early Childhood Center as part of their regular series of “Learning Walks” in district schools.

“It was great to see,” said board president Bernadette Saleh at the work session. “I’m always impressed. Kids are well behaved and wanting to learn.”

Superintendent Pat Sandos also complimented the school for the “authentic” learning taking place. “I really enjoyed the classes,” he added, “you could tell the kids had a strong comfort level in the classrooms.”

Board member Karla Najera said she noted that “every adult in those rooms genuinely cared for the growth of the child” and lauded the school atmosphere for being safe, clean and promoting education.

Head Start Training

Aimee Chapman, director of the Early Childhood Center, provided the board with training connected to the board’s legal and fiscal responsibilities as the governing body over the district’s Head Start grant. 

School Year Calendar

Superintendent Pat Sandos said the district is beginning to look at the 2019-2020 school year calendar and will begin a process of gathering feedback around the idea of starting later in August and shortening the Spring Break from two weeks to one.  

 

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