RFSD board to offer Spanish translation
Spanish-speaking families in the Roaring Fork School District will be able request translation services in advance of school board meetings if they wish to appear before the board on any given topic. The board last week also agreed to have district staff translate and post meeting agendas in Spanish.
The move is seen as a way to encourage greater participation by the district’s Spanish-speaking families during board and committee meetings and other district events.
Approximately 49 percent of students in the district, which serves Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt, come from families whose primary home language is other than English. In the vast majority of those cases, that language is Spanish.
The question was raised recently when the school board considered a contract for the newly hired principal at Roaring Fork High School, Brett Stringer. The issue drew a fair amount of public comment at the April 12 meeting in Carbondale from parents and teachers who had supported current Assistant Principal Kelsie Goodman for the job.
Among those who wanted to comment were two Latino parents who spoke only Spanish, and who came forward to address the board with no interpreter until someone from the audience volunteered.
The situation prompted a public apology from the school district that was posted on Facebook, which read:
“The district deeply regrets that it was not prepared to interpret two Spanish-speaking parents’ testimonies during open forum at the last board meeting.
“Not only was this a missed opportunity to engage the Spanish-speaking community, but it was a disservice to everyone attending the meeting.”
At its April 26 meeting, the board discussed various options for interpreter and translation services at future board meetings and other district events and meetings.
In addition to posting agendas in Spanish on the district website and elsewhere, the board agreed to have the district offer on-request interpretation services for all board meetings.
The goal, said board secretary and senior project manager for the district, Angie Davlyn, is “to be pre-emptive to provide those services when an issue or topic will likely bring broader participation.”
Now included on the Board of Education page on the district’s website are instructions on how to go about requesting an interpreter in advance of a particular meeting. That’s done by contacting district office receptionist Jenny Valdez, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 970-384-6001.
Other options that were considered included translating not only agendas, but all board packet materials, transcribing recordings of board meetings in Spanish, paying an interpreter to be present during the open forum portion of board meetings, or having an interpreter on hand for the entire meeting.
At the going rate for translation services of $16.29 an hour, the board agreed to the policy allowing for those services to be provided on request in advance of meetings.
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Roaring Fork School District board candidates shared their views at a Monday forum hosted by the Glenwood Springs Chamber, and will do so again Wednesday prior to the regular school board meeting.