Parent questions Re-1 board on teacher retention at CES
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A concerned parent asked the Roaring Fork School District Board of Education Wednesday what was being done to retain teachers who might possibly leave Carbondale Elementary School.
Carbondale parent Debbie Bruell spoke to the board during the open forum portion of the meeting, which gives the public an opportunity to talk to board members. She said she ” as well as five other Carbondale parents ” is considering whether to enroll her children in Carbondale Elementary School next fall.
Bruell indicated that she was expecting more parents to attend the meeting with her, though she was the only person who attended the board meeting Wednesday night to express concerns.
She cited problems at the school, including the manner in which teacher observations are conducted, as well as teachers still not receiving teaching assignments for next year, when teachers at other schools have.
“We’re getting dangerously close to discussions about personnel issues that need to be held in executive session,” said Re-1 board president Sue Hakanson. District policy requires that personnel issues not be held in public.
This is the second time Bruell has addressed the board this spring. She was also one of 50 people who attended a March 17 board meeting to support continuing Montessori education at Carbondale public elementary schools.
On Wednesday, Bruell cited a teacher survey taken late last fall by CES teachers and administered by the Parent Teacher League, of which she is a member. At that time, 17 teachers indicated they were considering leaving the school as soon as they could find other jobs. Bruell estimated there are approximately 25 teachers at the school.
“If I was a board member I would be considering this a crisis,” she wrote in a statement to the board. “I would be investigating what this crisis is all about.”
Carbondale’s schools have a large percentage ” up to 60 percent ” of students who speak English as their second language. This has contributed to the town’s Colorado Student Assessment Program test scores being the lowest in the district.
Now, school principals, teachers, district administrators and board members are all coping with low CSAP test scores and devising ways to pull those scores up.
A great start ” but more needed
Board members and administrators listened attentively as Bruell read her two-page presentation.
Bruell said she appreciated the steps so far to address her concerns, which included administrators and board members attending meetings with all of Carbondale Elementary School’s staff, as well as organizing a staff facilitation two weeks ago to improve communication and organization within the school.
“I heard from teachers it was a great start,” Bruell said. “But it’s now the end of April, and we need much more than a start.”
Board members took turns responding to Bruell’s presentation, mostly explaining the amount of work they have done to work out issues at the school.
“I have to disagree with some of what you have said,” Hakanson said. “I have spoken to a number of staff who attended CES’s facilitation day, and they tell me it was wonderful.”
Board member Bruce Wampler noted the amount of time he, the board and administrators have put into Carbondale schools.
“We are interested and we care,” Wampler said. “We’ve had community meetings, and we’ve heard what people have to say. It’s been very productive.”
Bruell said she understood that the board and administrators have put in “a lot of work,” but she noted that she still has specific concerns about the school that she wants resolved before committing her daughter to attending school there.
Board member Pete Delaney told Bruell, “I’ve seen a lot of progress. I can assure you we are doing our best. It’s not OK with us to lose teachers.”
“That’s good to hear,” Bruell said.
“But we’re not going to micromanage schools,” Delaney explained. “If you as a parent have a specific concern, you need to sit down with that specific person at that school.”
Superintendent Fred Wall told Bruell that as a result of CES’s facilitation day, CES staff members have a plan that they are working through with the facilitator. Follow-up meetings are planned for this spring and again in the fall, he said.
Bruell said she was “very pleased to hear board members say they were interested in keeping teachers. That’s a huge concern for us.”
She said she hopes more people will feel comfortable coming forward and expressing their concerns. She also hopes it’s not too late.
“I know the teachers at CES love the school and they love the kids. They don’t blab, and they don’t spread negative stuff. But if there are unacceptable things happening at the school, people need to get involved before teachers leave and it’s too late.”
Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518
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