Adams wants focus on student achievement, teachers
EDITOR’S NOTE: Today continues a series of commentaries penned by the six candidates running Nov. 4 for the Summit School District School Board. The candidates include Jim Shaw, Stuart Adams, Jon Kreamelmeyer, Robert Bowers, Ruth Hertzberg and Jay Brunvand. Voters will choose four of the six to fill out the seven-person board.
It’s about the children. The Summit School District and its school board must be focused on the education of our children, each one an individual with unique academic and personal growth needs.
The essential goal must be preparing them for the future. The vision that guides this process sees the school community, including the students, teachers, staff, parents and the community at large, working together in an atmosphere of care and respect to educate our students.
As a member of the Summit School Board and a candidate for election, I see five priorities for the education of our children:
n We must focus on achieving academic excellence. We do a good job of educating our students. Most of our students scored at or above the “proficient” levels on CSAP, indicating that we have built a strong foundation.
While federal law requires “Adequate Yearly Progress,” we should not settle for “adequate.” Our challenge is to raise the bar on academics for all students – to move “from good to great.”
To this end, we should provide an academically rigorous, content-rich curriculum, further invest in our teachers with advanced training and expand our efforts in early childhood education so that our children get off to a good start.
n We must focus on building on what we already have. Our teachers are high quality professionals with impressive capabilities.
They have been integral in building the successful program that we have. To allow our teachers to continue doing their job most effectively class size must remain small, especially at the elementary level.
Our teachers should be fairly compensated so that we may retain them as well as attract the best candidates. And we should make special efforts to listen to them and make best use of their insights and perspectives.
Likewise, our administrators and support staff who make the system work should be respected and treated fairly for what they do. The new superintendent must be held to high standards and must continue to hold her organization to those high standards.
n We must focus on meeting our students’ special needs. Every student is entitled to an education appropriate to his or her individual needs.
Guided by this simple principal, Summit offers a variety of programs for students with diverse needs. We provide a range of responses for our children with learning and/or physical disabilities and challenges.
Using the most current research, we must continue to improve these responses in order to deliver the best teaching methods and approaches for these students.
We provide programs for English Language Learners so that they may become literate and able to learn in our classrooms. We must tailor our offerings to the students’ level of literacy, providing a rescue option to those students who are at risk for dropping out.
For those students who demand additional rigor, we must continue to offer a variety of options – ACE, Advanced Placement, SuperGrad and International Baccalaureate, each meeting different students’ needs.
At the high school our career and technical program supports school-to-work transitions for students, including those who choose not to attend a four-year college. We should expand curriculum alternatives, preparing those students for better paying, future-oriented careers.
n We must focus on Summit County’s unique character. Summit County is a special community. We are one of the few school districts in this country that can offer our students opportunities to enjoy and excel in the outdoors.
The elementary school winter recreation program and our links with Keystone Science Center and Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center are examples of how the district embraces the unique resources of the High Country.
Our early release programs in the schools must continue to be supported. Also, if the freestyle training center is created at Keystone, the district must be prepared for additional demand for our programs that support skiers.
n We must focus on managing our resources. Owing to the trust and generosity of our community, Summit Schools’ fiscal position is sound.
In 2001 the district came to the taxpayers for a mill levy with a specific list of projects: renovating Dillon Valley and Breckenridge Elementary schools and building a new Silverthorne Elementary School.
These projects are either completed or on schedule and all are within budget. Through responsible financial management, the district spends more of the general fund directly on education while keeping our facilities safe and up to date. We must continue to manage in a responsible manner and be accountable to the public.
If we keep our eyes on these five priorities our schools can grow “from good to great.” We can’t let personal agendas obscure our responsibility. It’s about educating the children, preparing them for the unforeseeable future to the best of our ability. I am concerned that we may underprepare our students for the future but I have no concern that we will overprepare them.
Stuart Adams is from
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