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RFSD discusses accountability plan

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

The plan looks great. The trick will be making it work.People met from about 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday to discuss challenges and goals for the Roaring Fork School District Re-1.”This is an opportunity for us to dream really big things for our kids,” Superintendent Judy Haptonstall said while kicking off the day.The meeting was designed as a work session for the district’s five-year accountability plan.In the morning officials from Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs presented demographic and economic data. In the afternoon, participants split into focus groups to discuss ideas for the plan. District staff are intending to continue work on the accountability plan and present a final version to the school board in June.”We looked at it and said, ‘This is great, now how are you going to make it work?'” a woman in the audience said.Looking at who showed up for the meeting highlighted one of the challenges school districts face: getting more parents and community members to get involved and give input. Of around 60 to 90 people, the majority were education professionals and almost no one was Latino. Most educators agree that reaching out to Latino families is important with the changing faces the valley and its schools are experiencing. The district said it has increased Latino student and parent involvement. For parents, the district recognized its increased work with Latino radio stations and newsletters, Latino parent meetings, home visits, purchasing a translation system and increasing Spanish-speaking staff.Balancing ethnicity between public and private schools was listed as a major goal for Carbondale.According to RFSD data, from 2002-07, Crystal River Elementary School’s Latino population increased from 56 percent to 78 percent, while Carbondale Community School remained mostly white at about 83 percent in 2007. The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce estimates Carbondale is about 32 percent Hispanic.Districtwide since 2002, the Latino student population increased from 29 percent to 46 percent, while the white population decreased from 69 percent to 55 percent. There are about 5,040 current students.Haptonstall presented data that shows native English speakers scoring comparably on standardized tests to some of the better school districts in the state. She said it shows that some people’s fears that their child might not do as well in a school with many English Language Learners haven’t played out.Another challenge the district hopes to meet is improving the graduation rate of Latinos. In 2006, Latino graduation rates were at 55 percent, which was better than the 33 percent in 2002, but not as high as the 85 percent graduation rate for whites.The state’s average graduation rates are 86.4 percent for whites and 68.7 percent for Latinos.”I don’t think any of us will be happy until we have 100 percent and 100 percent sitting next to each other,” Haptonstall said.Latino issues were only one of the topics discussed. Other key areas of the plan are: inspiring student achievement, technology, establishing the RFSD as a premier school district, attracting and retaining quality staff, facilities and funding.Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611 pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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