844 Wet Mountain Tribune - Page 1 - 3/5/2015
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3/5/2015 Student safety, student learning: School board sets goals of moving district’s mission into action

“Work” was certainly the dynamic of the Work Session the School Board members called for themselves last Friday morning in the District Administration Conference Room.
Board President Brenda Gaide and board members Brian Clince, Monty Lee, and Bob Jolley gathered with Superintendent Chris Selle to continue the work of translating the overall mission of the District—to “create a school culture which will promote excellence in education through exemplary student learning in a safe environment”—into concrete, deliverable action goals.
Specific goals addressed during the session included the pressing matters of student safety and student learning.
The former, while always under review, has been an issue of particular concern for the last several weeks of assessment following a tragic student suicide. It was apparent during the meeting that the school and community are pulling together to provide healing, insight, and prevention. From designing more quantitative ways to measure risk assessment to promoting positive behaviors in an environment of trust across the school, the board continued to wrestle into shape programs enhancing those goals. These might include peer counseling—“a lot of work to get there,” commented Superintendent Selle—peer mentoring, special assemblies, smaller group meetings, pro-active gatherings with parents, and collaboration with the Sheriff’s Office.
A meeting of the School’s Crisis Team with staff from the Colorado School Safety Resource Center this past Monday is a strong step toward sustaining an environment of safety and trust within the School and community.
The challenging matter of supporting and advancing student learning sometimes proves to be an elusive goal; the members gathered acknowledged that, and moved on to concretize actions that would advance both student growth and proficiency. The latter is the area most measured by standardized testing, an event that takes place on specific days, hours, and with specific student populations. Though quantifiable, the results cannot always reflect one of the primary concerns of the board, staff and faculty; i.e., the actual growth individual students achieve in moving from a lower level of learning and skills to a higher level.
 Further complexity enters the picture when the realities of student and staff turnover, home environment, and even the weather on testing days come into play. Nonetheless, specific testing proficiency and individual student growth goals are being drawn up to lift the entire learning culture of the school above Colorado averages. Board member Bob Jolley, referring to some of the hard statistics and student testing results, repeatedly noted that “We know when we’re headed in the right direction!”
All other areas addressed during the work session supported major concerns of student safety and student learning. It included planning a March 16 Community Forum to address what sounds like a rather dry agenda item and “Graduation Guidelines,” which address the heart and pulse of the school’s mission to pursue excellence in education for students to proceed into adult life schooling or trades and professions. The board also discussed overhauling and maintaining the school’s website efficiently and cost-effectively; public relations and communications procedures to achieve clarity within the school community; and long range planning for deliverable capital improvements and replacement of  materials.
Board member Terre Davis was unable to attend, being snowed in.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the School Board is Tuesday, March 10, at 4:30 p.m. in the Great Room, located in the west wing of the school. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.
– W.A. Ewing

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