On April 20 and 21, the Longmont City Council held their 2-day annual retreat. Council members and subject matter experts discussed important issues facing Longmont – including education. GSV Communications Director, Paula Peairs, provided an overview of GSV to City Council members and sat in on the discussion.
City Council’s purpose was to consider the City’s role, if any, in promoting education in our community. While the City is not in the education business, Council recognized the economic impact of a strong school district, and agreed that strong schools are essential for Longmont (and all communities) to thrive. Council was very clear that they support and trust SVVSD to provide our K-12 students with the highest quality education.
The importance and variability of kindergarten readiness was discussed among educators and Council. The group concurred that current pre-school availability, quality, and access vary tremendously. The Council discussed ideas for consolidating pre-school oversight, leveraging reading/readiness resources in Longmont, and improving financial access to pre-school.
Don Haddad, SVVSD Superintendent, and John Creighton, BOE President, provided City Council with an update on SVVSD. Don and John cited the many achievement successes in SVVSD as well as the infrastructure improvements since the 2008 mill levy/bond. They were also very frank about the impact of state cuts on District resources – SVVSD has lost $20,000,000 over the last three years. The District has been effective in finding efficiencies throughout the organization and that work is ongoing. But tough decisions must be made regarding resource allocation. The District must determine what services and programs are ‘mission critical’ and apply resources accordingly.
Don Hadded cited adult education as an example of state budget cut impact. Adult education will be downsized next year, and it is likely that all adult education, including English acquisition classes, will be eliminated in 2013. John Creighton emphasized the importance of keeping our technology capabilities strong for all students and encouraged the City to utilize its voter approved public network to make the internet accessible to everyone. Don Haddad was also clear with the City Council that the District needs City support for our community to thrive. A school district does not exist in isolation from its community. The City must be a willing partner in promoting the importance of education in Longmont – Council agreed.
Front Range Community College administrators discussed strategic adjustments made to their programs to better focus resources on current economic needs. Specifically, FRCC focuses their classes toward technology skills, career advancement, and industry-specific training in the energy, bio science and manufacturing fields.
City Council discussed at length the importance of having English acquisition classes available in Longmont to incorporate everyone into one community. The City will explore ways to partner with FRCC and use public space and education facilities to keep English acquisition classes available.
GSV appreciates being part of the public City Council meeting and will look for ways in the future to partner with the City of Longmont to raise awareness about education issues.