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Board of Education Recap March 1st, 2018

 News from Sheridan School District No. 2


Contact: Mark Stevens


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

News Release

March 1, 2018

Plans for New Sheridan High School Submitted with BEST Grant Application

A new high school would rise southeast of the current building and would be ready for use in January of 2021 under a proposal submitted to the state’s BEST (Building Excellent Schools Today) Grant Program.

Cyndi Wright, Director of Facilities and Transportation for Sheridan School District 2, outlined the plans for the Board of Education at its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 27. The plans first must be approved by the state’s Capital Construction Assistance Board. A decision is scheduled for May. The proposal would then go the Colorado Board of Education in June.

If the proposal achieves green lights at the first two stages, the project would then be submitted to Sheridan voters for consideration of a bond proposal in November. Wright told the board that Sheridan’s share of the project would be 36 percent ($21.2 million) of the $59.1 million cost. The competitive BEST grant process was also used to build Fort Logan Northgate School.

Wright told the board that the grant proposal provides considerable detail on the current high school’s many deficiencies, including safety and security, plumbing, mechanical systems, site drainage, food service, technology, communications, traffic and pedestrian flow, accessibility for students with disabilities, and other issues as well.

If the project wins approval from the state and also from local voters, Wright said the new building would be constructed at the same time as the current high school continues operations. The plan would also affect the bus garage, the warehouse and the building that houses the district’s long-unused swimming pool.

Wright thanked the board for their unanimous support and allowing the district to pursue the opportunity. “We won’t know unless we try,” she said.

Biliteracy Diploma

Language, Culture and Equity Director Linda Chapman said the school district will offer a seal of biliteracy on its high school diplomas for seniors graduating this spring and the high school will offer its first Advanced Placement class next fall, Advanced Placement Spanish, Language and Culture.

The seal of biliteracy recognizes students who have studied and attained proficiency in English and (at a minimum) one other world language. Chapman outlined the number of ways that “proficiency” could be measured, including Advanced Placement tests, college entrance exams, International Baccalaureate exams, Arapahoe Community College tests, and performance on the Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages.

Advanced Placement classes offer students college-level course material, said Chapman, and colleges and universities offer college credit for proficient scores on AP tests (every college or university takes a different approach). “We are really enthusiastic,” Chapman told the board. “You should be really proud of what the staff is doing.”

Forrest Davis—National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Forrest Davis, who has spent his entire 34-year career as the woodworking and drafting teacher at Sheridan High School, will soon be inducted into the Class of 2018 National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Superintendent Michael Clough read the letter from Lee Roy Smith, executive director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. “Forrest, you are leaving your family, friends and wrestling fans a valuable asset … a respectable name and reputation for serving a sport that we all consider worthy of passing on to future generations,” wrote Smith.

“A tremendous honor,” said Davis.

Mentor 2.0 Update

To date, 300 students at Sheridan High School have been matched with adult mentors under the Mentor 2.0 program backed by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado. This week, Big Brothers Chief Executive Officer Dave Ryan briefed the board on the effort, which he said is going strong. The effort seeks to match every incoming freshman with an adult with the goal of helping every student graduate from high school with a solid postsecondary plan. The mentors and students meet once a week and can also communicate one-to-one over a secure app on their mobile devices.

The program is so popular with would-be mentors, said Ryan, that some adults have been turned away.

Big Brothers’ program director Lance Holly introduced student Lucy Martinez and her mentor, attorney Julie Radner. “She is very supportive and encourages me to become a better student,” said Martinez.

Replied Radner: “I feel like I won the lottery. I feel like I’m getting as much out of the program as she has.”

District Advisory and Accountability Committee

Alice Terry Elementary School teacher and District Accountability and Advisory Committee (DAAC) Chairman Adrian Vigil presented on behalf of DAAC, a state-mandated group of parents, community members, teachers and district representatives. Vigil told the board that DAAC’s area of focus this year has been on the district’s declining enrollment, “to define causes and bring forward positive solutions.”

Vigil said the group has been studying increased rental rates in Sheridan and also whether parents who leave Sheridan for one reason or another also realize that the state allows families to choose schools in other districts besides the one where they reside. Another issue is the need for quality programming before and after school hours, perhaps through partnering with another community group or agency. The district is preparing to apply for federal funds through the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant program that could support that effort, said Deputy Superintendent Jackie Webb.

Translation Services

The school district will begin providing interpretation services for Spanish-speaking parents and community members for the public comments portion of school board meetings, Superintendent Clough told the board. The district’s six family liaisons have agreed to participate in training. The interpreter service will be available for the entire board meeting once the district receives new wireless headset and microphone equipment and once training is complete.

Student Retention and Recruitment

Superintendent Clough shared findings from University of Denver doctoral candidate Isaac Solano, who was asked to look into reasons behind the district’s declining enrollment. The district’s enrollment is down over 100 students from last school year. Solano contacted 36 families, representing 41 students who have left the district. He asked them all the same set of questions.

Solano found that parents said they believe they will have access to better athletic programs, better programs for gifted and talented students, and perhaps more college and university scholarship options. Solano found that many parents were unaware that their place of residence did not limit their ability to attend schools in neighboring school districts. Clough said that nine families indicated a strong interest in returning to Sheridan.

Board member Sally Daigle offered impassioned comments about the scholarships that are earned by Sheridan High School students. In 2017, 77 graduating students attracted $1.1 million in total scholarship offerings.

Major Accomplishment

From now through June, said Superintendent Clough, one district accomplishment will be highlighted at every board meeting to emphasize some of the positive strides the district has made. To kick off the series, Superintendent Clough pointed to the “long climb back” from being at the bottom of the state’s accreditation ratings and being threatened with state takeover. In September of 2016, the Colorado Department of Education improved Sheridan’s ranking from “accredited with a priority improvement plan” to “accredited with an improvement plan” based on improved growth scores and other performance data. (The district continues to be accredited with an improvement plan in 2017-2018.)

Had the achievement not improved, said Clough, the district might have faced consolidation, closure, or might have lost control over its own operations. That accomplishment, he urged, should not be overlooked as the district continues to improve.

Open Letter

Board member Karla Najera read an open letter to Sheridan students. She lauded students who have recently come forward with complaints for “fighting to raise the bar for your fellow students.” Najera urged students to continue to advocate for their needs and to “share their concerns, their truth, and their successes.”

Community Schools

Board member Daniel Stange relayed an upbeat report after attending a conference in Milwaukee on community schools. Stange said the key is “applying the principles of community schools with fidelity.” The community schools initiative is supported by the National Education Association. Stange attended the conference with Sheridan Educators Association president and Fort Logan Northgate School teacher Peter Morris and Fort Logan Northgate School assistant principal Beth Joswick.

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