Planning for Eastbank school begins in earnest |

Planning for Eastbank school begins in earnest

One of the busiest principals in the Roaring Fork School District this school year doesn’t even have a school yet.

Adam Volek was hired last April to lead the new pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade school that is now under construction at the district’s Eastbank site south of Glenwood Springs.

Volek officially started his new job at the beginning of August. He and district officials have since laid out an aggressive time line to develop the school’s mission, attendance boundaries, academic programming, student assessment strategies, leadership plan, staffing and out-of-area enrollment policies.

One of the first orders of business will be to come up with an official name for the new $34.5 million school that was part of the larger $122 million bond issue approved last November. The new school is slated to open for the 2017-18 school year.

“This will be a great opportunity to engage the entire community and for everyone to participate, regardless of age or association with the schools, to come up with something fun and creative,” Volek said of plans to unveil a school name, mascot, colors and logos by November.

In addition, the program team will define a vision and identity for the school “that describes the five-year outcomes for the school and captures the community’s hopes and desires, meets the needs of our student population, and aligns with the district mission and strategic priorities,” according to an outline for planning the new school.

“We’ve already had a lot of discussion around community engagement and how we can bring different people into the fold,” Volek said after presenting the school development outline to the RFSD Board of Education Wednesday.

A school advisory committee is expected to be established by October, and by November the district hopes to define and communicate to the public the school attendance boundaries and enrollment process.

The new pre-K-8 school is a major part of the district’s facilities master plan, and was included in the bond issue in an effort to ease overcrowding at Glenwood Springs’ two elementary schools, Sopris Elementary and GSES, and Glenwood Middle School.

The new school will primarily serve the area just south of Glenwood Springs, including any new development along the Colorado 82 corridor toward Cattle Creek, plus Ironbridge, the West Bank and West Bank Mesa neighborhoods, and the Red Canyon and Spring Valley areas.

The school has been designed to accommodate 450 students, including 150 in the middle school grades of sixth, seventh and eighth.

But the exact number of students that will occupy the new building when it opens will depend on the attendance boundaries. The district also expects to have an enrollment policy for any families living outside the attendance area that want to enroll their students in the new school.

Bus transportation will be provided for any students living within the attendance area for the school, Rob Stein, superintendent for RFSD schools, said at the Wednesday meeting in Carbondale. However, district policy requiring families that reside outside a school attendance area to provide their own student transportation will most likely apply to the new school as well, he said.

A big part of the transition will also revolve around which teachers from existing schools will transfer to the new K-8 school, and any impacts that might have on the schools that will see a drop in enrollment as a result, Stein said.

There is not expected to be a net increase in teachers between the affected schools with the opening of the new school, unless overall student enrollment increases, he said.

“Some teachers will leave their existing schools,” Stein said. “But my experience is that, when something like this happens, people are lining up to be a part of it. I doubt there will be any involuntary displacement.”

Volek agreed that the goal will be to minimize impacts on existing schools.

“We realize that Eastbank doesn’t exist in isolation,” he said. “There is going to be some impact, but I think most of that will be positive impact.

“Our job is to make sure we do this in an efficient and supportive way,” Volek said.

According to the school development time line, a personnel committee will be formed and an interview process created by October. Volek said he also hopes to have a parent-teacher organization established by December.

A school start-up budget should be determined by February, and some start-up staff could be on board by January, Volek said.

Information about the planning efforts to open the new school for next school year will also be shared during the upcoming Glenwood back-to-school nights in September, he said.

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