Over the course of approximately 8 weeks 27 community members from across the school district came together to learn about education in the SVVSD. District experts shared comprehensive information and these stakeholders were asked to weigh in with their perspective.
The Task Force was charged with recommending responsible steps for our community to take given the context in which the St Vrain Valley School District operates.
GSV leaders Paula Peairs and Carolyn Storz were charged with leading this task and reported results to the BOE on April 18th, 2012.
The Task Force identified the key objective as follows:
Close the gap between providing education excellence and available resources.
The Task Force identified the following issues that need to be successfully addressed to accomplish the objective;
Issue 1: Decreased Funding (Annual funding shortfall)
Issue 2: Disconnect between schools and community/economic prosperity (establish a correlation between strong schools and a vibrant community)
Issue 3: Lack of public understanding about 21st century schools (help stakeholders understand what it means to educate a child in today’s world)
Issue 4: No sense of pubic urgency (Public perception is that schools are fine)
At the conclusion of the second meeting, participants made recommendations pertaining to each issue, while keeping the district’s Strategic Priorities in mind.
A multi-vote process narrowed the following three recommendations:
- Consider a MLO for the 2012 Ballot
- Continue focusing on Cost Containment
- Communicate with the Public
1. MLO – The Task Force understood the need for and supported a Mill Levy Override to close the funding gap and maintain excellence. Closing the funding gap created by the State must be addressed in order for our schools to continue to deliver quality education services that prepare students for the 21st Century.
Understanding that the shortfall will weaken strategic priorities, cause teacher reductions, further impact class size, cause technology capabilities to degrade, undermine safety and erode student achievement then an MLO is a responsible step to initiate to Save Excellence in the SVVSD and should be utilized to fulfill the strategic priorities.
2. Cost Containment – The Task Force emphasized that a local increase in education investment proceed with a reciprocal focus on continued efficiencies and cost containment.
While the Task Force lauds the progress the district has achieved thus far, additional opportunities should be pursued.
The Task Force identified Technology as a key driver for both efficiency and achievement. Investments in technology lead not only to success in student learning but yields district wide efficiencies.
Sharing these efficiencies with the public, will generate support for further investment.
3. Communication with the Public – The Task Force recognized a continued opportunity to tell the story to the community of the SVVSD and wanted to weigh in on the subject.
The group was highly engaged in dialogue about what to communicate. In particular, answering the question; “What does the public need to understand about schools in order to provide the necessary support?”
Reaching out to voters for education funding is an opportunity, not without risks. The Task Force recognized the challenges associated with the timing of an MLO in 2012, however, expressed that the community needs to be made aware of the realities facing our schools.
The Task Force did not want to be short sighted by not suggesting possible solutions to decreased funding. Putting the funding issues to the public, coupled with a factual communication effort that adds value to public knowledge about education, is an opportunity.
Furthermore, it is a responsible step for our Board of Education to share information with our citizens so that voters understand the need to support public education and the risks of reduced funding.
The group was thankful for the chance to participate and appreciates district leaders who ask for and value community input.