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ViewSHERIDAN SCHOOL DISTRICT 2
Board of Education Work Session Recap January 23rd, 2019

News from Sheridan School District No. 2

Contact: Mark Stevens

mstevens@ssd2.org

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

 

News Release

Jan. 23, 2019

Mid-Year Progress Report Reveals Wide Variety of Initiatives Underway

 

School district leadership delivered a Mid-Year Progress Report at the Sheridan Board of Education’s work session last night (Jan. 22), revealing the many initiatives and wide variety of work being pursued following the appointment of Superintendent Pat Sandos last summer.

The district’s work is organized around four strategies:

  1. Strengthen Rigor and Provide Choice
  2. Continue to Strengthen Safety and Security
  3. Increase Cultural Competency in the District
  4. Develop a Financial Plan to Contend with Potential Loss of Revenue

Superintendent Sandos said the district work is focused on upgrading the many “systems and structures” that fall under those four strands of work.

Chief Academic Officer Shirley Miles reviewed the activity under the first strategy—the steps being taken to bolster the academic environment including hiring a new principal at Alice Terry Elementary School (Diego Romero) to support restructuring efforts and increase rigor and front-loading all classrooms from kindergarten through third grade with new Instructional Support Assistants (ISAs). 

The ISAs are being hired and placed this week, said Blanche Kapushion, Director of Student Achievement. The ISA job posting drew a strong pool of interested applicants. Sandos emphasized that the ISAs are designed to function alongside classroom teachers “as close to a co-teaching model as you can get … We know this works. It’s our best chance to change the trajectory by getting them extra help right away.”   

The ISA’s will focus on literacy and numeracy and will be supported through ongoing professional development, said Kapushion.

Additional work to improve district-wide rigor included hiring a new principal at SOAR Academy (Todd Legge); hiring an assessment director (Maegan Daigler) to build capacity at the district and school level to support both formative and summative practices; aligning district and school improvement plans to a single-focus system; developing plans for teacher librarians at both Fort Logan Northgate School and Sheridan High School, including a renewed emphasis in educational technology; strengthening career pathways for high school students eyeing post-secondary work in the trades; implementing Beyond Textbooks with fidelity; and establishing a monthly reporting process with schools and the Board of Education, including regular Learning Walks in schools, among many other steps.

Chief Academic Officer Miles also discussed recent, upbeat discussions with Arapahoe Community College to reinvigorate the concurrent enrollment partnership.  More and more ACC classes will be offered at the high school, she said, to make it easier for Sheridan High School students to access college curriculum and, perhaps, graduate from high school with an associate’s degree in hand.

A new teacher evaluation system, adopted from Jeffco Schools, is also being implemented with the collaboration of Sheridan teachers.

Miles also noted that existing programs are being evaluated for their impact on student achievement, prompting board member Karla Najera to ask how frequently the district investigates whether a program is working—or not. Miles said she plans to be aggressive in her analysis. “We have to be better about being accountable for the dollars,” she said.

Chief Operations Officer Cyndi Wright reviewed the steps under the Safety and Security strategy. The district recently applied for and received a state SAFER grant for radios that will improve communication and interoperability with law enforcement and first responders. The district is establishing and maintain regular meetings with all schools and such community stakeholders as the library, recreation center, city of Sheridan, and police department. 

In addition, said Wright, the district is working to improve mental health response and training and is establishing common protocols for threat assessments and suicide risk assessments. Student discipline practices are also being revised and upgraded, using intervention that is restorative in nature whenever appropriate.

The grounds at Alice Terry Elementary School are being upgraded to improve pedestrian and student safety, a GOCO (Great Outdoors Colorado) grant will bring playground upgrades at Alice Terry and Fort Long Northgate, and the entire Informational Technology infrastructure is being upgraded, too.

Christine Muldoon, Sheridan’s Director of Language, Culture & Equity, reviewed the steps being pursued to increase cultural competency among all staff in the district.  The trainings include a recent keynote address by Pedro Noguera at Arapahoe High School and upcoming trainings and school visits with a colleague of Noguera’s, Yemi Stembridge.  Spanish language classes are being offered to all staff members and district is seeking to increase the number of administrators and teachers of color to reflect the student population being served. 

Superintendent Sandos emphasized the importance of this work so that all staff “continue to work to build their understanding of the kids we serve.” 

Chief Financial Officer Kristen Colonell presented the overview of the district’s financial plan. She noted the successful mill levy override in November, improvements in the employee hiring and “off-boarding” procedures; pending plans to restructure compensation packages for teachers; flattening of the organizational structure; budget revisions to reflect the academic plan; and new Student-Based Budgeting procedures.

Graduation Rates

Sheridan High School students have shown steady increases over the past three years and continue to outperform the statewide four-year graduation rate, according to data released recently by the Colorado Department of Education for the 2017-2018 school year. The high school’s graduation rate is 91 percent, the statewide rate is 81 percent.

The district-wide graduation rate (65 percent) doesn’t look as promising, explained Director of Assessment Maegan Daigler, because the district-wide figure includes data from the district’s alternative high school, SOAR Academy.  SOAR Academy serves 21 percent of all high-school age students in Sheridan, she added, but its individual school graduation rate is in line with other alternative education campuses in Metro Denver.  Superintendent Sandos noted that the district is working to improve SOAR’s graduation rate through a number of strategies. 

School Board Appreciation Week

School board members were presented with ‘Thank You’ posters created by individual schools—one poster for each board member from each school—as part of School Board Appreciation Week. In addition, the district’s food and nutrition services department sent along a cake to say ‘Thank You.”

District leaders also took a few minutes to thank board members Bernadette Saleh, Sally Daigle, Juanita Camacho, Daniel Stange, and Karla Najera for their work.  “You always put kids first,” said Sheridan High School principal Eileen Doolan. Chief Financial Officer Colonell recognized board members for their passion and thanked them for their time and effort and Chief Operations Officer Wright said the board’s dedication on behalf of students is “very inspiring.”

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