Please allow me to be among to the first to welcome you to a new school year full of promise. After a typically beautiful and busy summer in the San Juans, I am truly excited about participating in a new chapter in the history of the Ridgway School District.
The Board has been shaping priorities for the upcoming school year and beyond.
Beginning last fall, the Board held discussions that resulted in a written resolution to make teacher and principal evaluation methodology and practice a Board policy priority. The evaluation model prompted by recent legislation has made educator evaluations a critical tool to obtain growth in student achievement. In the coming year we intend to consult closely with our interim Superintendent Steve Smith with respect to the evaluations and process being implemented in the schools. We must ensure that the evaluations are prompting meaningful discussion, collaboration, and action in the realm of classroom instruction, and ultimately that we are maximizing the evaluation tool to achieve the growth potential of all of our students.
Similarly, in July, the Board met for its annual retreat. In that meeting, the Board reaffirmed its continuing goal to increase teacher and staff compensation. We need to do more to attract and keep the brightest educators by offering them a competitive salary in addition to all the other benefits the Ridgway community has to offer. The Board will dedicate the time necessary in the coming year to ultimately adopt a new compensation matrix that will increase the bottom line for our teachers and staff who work with our students every day.
Last spring, at the suggestion of the Accountability Committee, the Board directed Mr. Smith to organize a series of facilitated strategic planning meetings designed to frame the future goals for the District. The results of the strategic planning will inform and guide the Board and future boards in its decision making. I encourage everyone with a stake in our schools to participate and learn from those meetings. Information will be posted about this strategic planning initiative in the weeks to come.
As many of you know, we have a new administrative team leading us into the 2014-2015 school year. Mr. Smith already has made positive contributions to our schools in his brief time with us by creating a welcoming atmosphere, providing clear communication, and giving prudent advice to the Board. Our Elementary Principal Ms. Trish Greenwood, continues to set high expectations and goals for our elementary school. Our interim Secondary Principal, Mr. Chuck Siefkin, has a proven track record of excellence in education that he brings to his new position.
We’re excited for Chuck as he begins a new chapter in his journey in education. The Board has a duty and a legal obligation to conduct a long term Superintendent search with the assistance of the Colorado Association of School Boards. The Board is scheduled to begin its search in the late fall of 2014. We hope to utilize the input received through the strategic planning to inform our search for the chief executive officer to be tasked with implementing future Board priorities and policies. Of course we will also continue to work closely with Mr. Smith and we will be continuing our discussions with him about his future in our District.
Last spring, my wife Lisa provided me with the following quotation: “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”
I keep this statement on my wall as a reminder that our work is just beginning. Our school district has achieved much in recent years yet there is still more for us to do. Given the decisions ahead of us, we are at a critical juncture in our schools’ history. Better still, we are in a unique position to implement positive change to our schools for years to come. As always, we welcome and appreciate the amazing contributions of all of those who work for, volunteer for, and support our schools.
I wish you a happy, great, and safe year. May your life’s education never cease.
– Roger Sagal, Ridgway School Board President
Category: Letters to the Editor