During their eight years of service on the Moffat County School Board, vice president Andrea Camp, president Jo Ann Baxter and secretary Trish Snyder each witnessed sweeping changes both in the school district and in education.
They saw the passage of a $29.5 million bond issue and the subsequent construction of a new Craig Middle School. They saw the use of technology evolve in the classroom, and they grappled with financial and policy issues from the state and federal governments.
Camp, Baxter and Snyder are term limited, and their time on the board is now almost over. They now make way for newly elected board members Sherry St. Louis and J.B. Chapman.
A third board member is to be selected later, since no one stepped forward to run for the District 7 seat. Camp, the current District 7 board member, will fill the position until a replacement can be found.
The three outgoing members reflected recently on their time on the board, changes in education and the challenges the district may face in the near future.
Baxter and Snyder highlighted the construction of a new middle school as one of the board’s greatest achievements during their tenure.
The new school, funded by the bond issue voters passed in November 2007, replaced an aging Craig Middle School. Demolition began in 2008, and the new building was nearly complete by the beginning of the 2009-10 school year.
Providing all-day kindergarten also was a notable achievement, Snyder said, even though she initially voted against the measure.
“The reason behind that was not that I don’t advocate for early childhood and the all-day kindergarten program,” she said, but added that she would have preferred the district offer parents a choice between full-day or half-day kindergarten.
Still, Snyder added, she believes offering a full day of class for the district’s kindergarteners has been a plus.
“There’s just so much asked of kids at an earlier age now, and I think the all-day kindergarten benefits that learning process for those kids,” she said.
The board also oversaw the search and selection of a new superintendent in 2009 after the district’s former top administrator, Pete Bergmann, retired earlier that year.
“I think that’s been a great thing,” Camp said. “I think Joe (Petrone) is doing a fantastic job.”
New administrators and a new school weren’t the only changes during past eight years. Education as a whole has altered since things like SMARTboards, laptops and the Internet have come on the scene.
With new technology, learning is “so much more interactive,” Snyder said. “When I was going to school, you had books and papers, you sat in the class and the teacher taught.”
Educators still fill an important role, she added, yet new technology is “giving the kids the ownership of their education.”
Enacting the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 also affected education on a local level.
“I think just such a greater accountability on districts and on teachers,” as a result, Camp said. “I think we’ve approached it with mixed feelings.
“I think there’s a lot of good things that have come out of that, but there are also a lot of mandates that are handed down from both the federal level and the state level that unfortunately, we just don’t have the money to … meet the requirements that they’re asking us to meet.”
School funding, “or the lack thereof,” Camp said, is the biggest challenge facing the district now.
Snyder and Baxter agreed.
Funding has long been an issue for the board, Baxter said, and will continue to be “until the state of Colorado … makes some major changes.”
Other challenges also loom, like increasing student achievement. Individual students in the district have achieved “impressive” success, Baxter said, but added that “as a group, we’re not doing as well for all of the … students.”
One potential solution could be Colorado Senate Bill 10-191, designed to implement a consistent statewide system for evaluating educators. Per the law, at least half of a teacher’s or principal’s evaluation must be based on student growth.
“It’s my thinking that (SB 191) will improve student achievement and student successes,” Baxter said.
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