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Board of Education Work Session Recap January 30th, 2020

News from Sheridan School District No. 2

Contact: Mark Stevens

mstevens@ssd2.org

303-495-8699 (mobile)

News Release

Jan. 30, 2020

Board of Education Work Session—Recap

The Sheridan Board of Education discussed a wide range of topics during its work session Tuesday, Jan. 28.

Sheridan High School Learning Walk.

Board members commented on a recent Learning Walk at Sheridan High School. Board member Daniel Stange said he observed that students were “staying focused” in class. He added that he enjoyed the conversation with school leaders following the classroom visits. Board member Karla Najera and others said they appreciated the student hosts who led the tour.

“We saw five classes and everything was going well in all of them,” said board president Bernadette Saleh. She added that an informative guest speaker in the AVID classroom was providing information on college scholarships and financial aid. The students were “intently listening,” noted Saleh.

Saleh said Sheridan High School principal German Echevarria “has done a good job of starting to build an academic culture” and added that students in classes appeared to be engaged in learning.

School-Based Budgeting

Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Duncan presented more detail on the district's ongoing shift to school-based budgeting. Meetings with schools begin this week. “Budgeting decisions will be driven by data,” said Duncan, with a focus on what’s working—and what’s not—in terms of student achievement.

If a program or initiative is “not driving academic achievement, we need to rethink about what could be done,” she said.

Each school will be presented with a set of evaluation questions to help gauge what programs are effective. General fund expenses and all grant money will be studied through the same critical lens. “This process will become more robust as the years move forward,” she said.

Mill Levy Equalization

Board members and Superintendent Pat Sandos discussed a proposal that would create a uniform mill levy for all school districts across the state. The proposal is not yet in formal bill form. However, it has been floated as one means of reducing the budget stabilization factor. Under the idea, some school districts would be required to ask local taxpayers to raise taxes and, if such a measure were to fail, the districts would receive less funding.

Superintendent Sandos and board members had concerns with the idea. Superintendent Sandos said school district reaction has varied widely because some districts would be less impacted than others. He also said Sheridan voters have been very supportive of recent school district requests for additional resources—but he doubted those same voters would be as eager to raise taxes for the sole purpose of fixing statewide school financing formulas.

Student-Centered Accountability Project

Director of Assessment Maegan Daigler provided an update on the district’s increasing engagement with the Student-Centered Accountability Project (S-CAP). The project is a collaborative of 15 rural districts designed to create a more comprehensive evaluation system beyond what’s available through the current District Performance Frameworks. The effort is backed by the Colorado Department of Education. Districts involved in S-CAP seek to use multiple measures to evaluate the success of students and to evaluate the capacity of the system.

Participating districts have identified three major elements to the S-CAP accountability system: Meaningful Learning, Professional Culture, and Resource Prioritization. The S-CAP districts “wanted to get a better understanding of the work and everything that schools do,” said Daigler. “State measures are a narrow view.”

Those involved in S-CAP conduct visits to other districts in the network and receive fellow S-CAP visitors as well. This professional development aspect of S-CAP will be invaluable, said Superintendent Sandos, and provide feedback that is “more actionable” than what’s available through the state’s performance frameworks today. Sheridan is currently in an introductory year and will further its engagement in the 2020-2021 school year.

Instructional Technology

Last summer, the district hired its first education technology coordinator, Alicia Butcher, with the idea of ensuring that students are prepared as well as possible for the increasingly technological world. This week, Butcher provided an update, including her assessment of school and teacher needs. Butcher said she is developing and beginning to execute a plan that will begin in early grade levels and move up through high schools with age-appropriate access to the online world, developing the relevant computer and digital technology skills at the same time. “What do we want in the hands of kids?” asked Butcher. “What is our true value?”

The plan also will include support for teachers, she added. “I don’t want to dump a tool in a teacher’s hands and say ‘go.’”

Tim Luth, Director of Technology, also provided an update on improvements to the district’s network systems that support instructional technology.

Superintendent Sandos announced that Maegan Daigler will now also oversee the district’s instructional technology work.

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