New school near Glenwood may displace some teachers
Roaring Fork School District teachers who are displaced from where they currently teach due to enrollment shifts to the new Riverview School south of Glenwood Springs next school year may or may not be picked to teach at the new school.
According to Riverview Principal Adam Volek, all internal applicants who would like to teach at the new dual-language, project-based learning school serving pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students will be interviewed. And any current district teachers who are interested will also have the opportunity to be observed in their classroom instruction as part of that hiring process, he said.
Like all other applicants, though, they will have to submit resumes and go through the process of determining their qualifications before decisions are made, Volek explained.
“We want the absolute best teachers for our kids, so we have opened it up both internally and externally and are looking for people with right qualifications for the positions that are open,” he said.
Hiring plans for the new school, which will primarily draw from the student populations at Sopris Elementary School and Glenwood Springs Middle School, has raised some concerns among parent groups and with the Roaring Fork Community Education Association that represents teachers in the district.
“RFCEA is aware of and has taken an active role in conversations regarding possible teacher displacement with the opening of the new Riverview School,” said Rhonda Tatham, president of the teachers’ association.
However, at this point, there are too many unknowns regarding school enrollment that is still being determined based on early enrollment preference forms that were due from parents on Friday.
Teacher retirements and resignations that typically are announced for the following year during the late winter and spring months also could impact things, she said.
“As this information is available, it is our hope that we can continue to work collaboratively with the district so that none of our excellent teachers lose employment because of this new building opening,” Tatham said.
Rob Stein, superintendent of Roaring Fork Schools, also said the district is committed to work with the teachers’ organization to help teachers through the transition.
“We want to make sure people have accurate information, and will do everything we can to help people through this process,” Stein said.
Although most teachers will eventually need to be dual-language certified, it’s not necessarily a prerequisite when the school starts up, Volek said.
Through professional development, teachers will learn how to teach in a dual-language model. Becoming bilingual is also a goal for himself as the building administrator, he said.
“There’s also an opportunity for teachers who are not bilingual to be hired as well,” Volek said.
The decision to adopt a dual-language, project-based model was determined based on input from surveys of parents and other community members asking what kind of programming they would like to see at the new school.
“As I learn more about dual-language programming, the benefits for all children are apparent,” Stein said. “As a school district, we’re confronted with a lot of research that says this is a really great thing for all kids, and it’s incumbent on us to say how we’re going to do that.”
One other district school, Basalt Elementary, offers dual-language classroom learning as a choice, but Riverview will be the only school that provides it as part of the regular programming. It will also be the only school offering it in the middle school grades.
But that could change as the program develops at Riverview, Stein said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we have others schools expressing interest in at least some degree of dual language programming,” he said.
Riverview School, which is part of the $122 million bond package approved by district voters in 2015 and is meant to ease crowding primarily at Sopris Elementary and Glenwood Middle schools, is expected to open with about 350 students.
That would translate to a need for about 30 teachers, Volek said, although the final numbers are still being determined.
Families who live outside the Riverview attendance area in Glenwood Springs or elsewhere in the district can choice into the school. Likewise, students can choose to stay in their current school even if they live in the new attendance area.
That’s all being determined through the early enrollment preference process that started Jan. 9 and ended Friday.
“Once we have a firm count of who is going to what school, we can start to make those staffing decisions,” Stein said. “That’s why it’s good to get early and accurate numbers, because people’s job security is important.”
Stein said it will take at least a week to crunch the numbers, and that parents will be receiving postcards in February letting them know what school their child will be enrolled in for the 2017-18 school years.
At that time, the district will also have a better idea what its staffing needs are for each school, he said.
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