Telluride School District Engages Community in Planning

05/29/14 | By | 192 views More

A Question to Add Facilities May Go to the Ballot

TELLURIDE – Faced with consistent growth in student population, the Telluride School District has held meetings with parents and has retained a design-build firm to develop new facilities if the school board decides to send a bond question to voters in November and if voters then approve it.

At the third of three scheduled parents meetings this week, Schumacher told the group that school enrollment has grown steadily over the last several years, to the point that class sizes generally have increased from 13-14 students in many classes to as many as 18-19 students.  With class sizes hitting the mid 70s, there are now four sections of most elementary school classes.

“This next school year, we’ll be using every space in the school,” Schumacher said.  “Space has become an issue and it impacts the programs we can offer.”

In addition to a shortage of classrooms, the district also has maxed out its use of common spaces, like the lunchroom and gym.

“We can’t schedule kids for lunch as early as 10:30 or as late as 2,” he explained, by way of an example.

Schumacher asked parents who attended the meetings to think about the class of 2027, or next year’s kindergartners.

“What kinds of skills do those kids need to learn?” he asked. “What programs, curriculum and facilities will they need? What does the classroom of the future look like?”

Meeting participants were invited to write their ideas on sticky notes and post them on one of four posters labeled programs, curriculum, facilities and a category “other.”

More computer coding and science, one parent suggested; has there been any thought to year-round school, asked another. Why is the Telluride Elementary School ranked lower than the Telluride High School, a third asked.

Answering that last question, Schumacher suggested there may be some fear of seeing young children fail, and therefore less academic rigor is sometimes demanded of them.  But another parent responded that she saw no reason to seek more academic rigor in elementary school, since the same kids then perform at high levels in high school.

Young Telluride kids overall are exceptional at public speaking and performance, Schumacher said, and perhaps not so exceptional in math and reading.

After hearing some parents suggest that the school may not be performing as well as its reputation suggests, Schumacher asked:  “We have a large number of parents who are very competitive in terms of what they want for their kids, but how does that tie into a public school that enrolls all kids?”

Much of the discussion at Tuesday’s meeting turned to a school culture that may not foster enough respect by students for their teachers, for their school, for each other and for themselves, some parents said, and they posed numerous questions about how to improve it.

The Telluride District faces a particular challenge of balancing the needs of a population that is affluent with the needs of a population that is impoverished, Schumacher said.

At its April meeting, the Telluride School Board retained Neenan and Co. as a design/build firm for possible expansion. Possibilities include additions to the front or the rear of the existing middle school/high school, or both, Schumacher said. Neenan and Co. will hold design charrettes to solicit more ideas from the public over the next two months as the board moves to a decision whether or not to put a bond question on the November ballot in order to fund new construction.

State law requires ballots to be finalized by elected officials no later than 60 days before an election, which this year will be Sept. 5 for the election on Nov. 4.

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