Back-to-school Q&A with superintendent Scott Pankow
Moffat County students headed back to school on Monday, starting the first “completely normal” fall semester since 2019. To mark the new year, the Craig Press sat down with superintendent Scott Pankow Monday to discuss aspects of the return: including potentially higher student populations, teacher openings and school district workshops.
Craig Press: Monday’s the first day back, so that’s exciting. How’s it been?
Scott Pankow: It was good. I made it to Sunset Elementary, the middle school and Sandrock (so far). And I’m going to head to the high school here in just a little bit. The kids were happy, and parents were happy. Traffic flow was good. It was a really good first day. Last week, we had four of the six open houses, and with every parent, every kid, the excitement was there.
It was just great having them in the buildings again, and a lot of new people (are) coming in. I talked to several families that just moved in from Jefferson County and Colorado Springs, and on the other side of the hill, just coming here and just looking forward to being here.
CP: Why are they moving here?
SP: Some of them did obviously relocate and get jobs. I did have one mom tell me that she likes the way we’re doing (reopening). It’s a little more affordable place to live, really, and people can telecommute now, so I can see this town pivoting and getting more people, actually.
CP: How is the school district doing teachers-wise, as far as getting people hired?
SP: As of this morning, there are still 217 positions unfilled statewide (because of a nationwide teacher shortage). Math is the hardest one for us to fill, so we still have a few positions that we’re looking for — more para-positions. We have quite a few paraprofessional positions that are open, (and a) few key teacher positions that we’d like to (fill). We’re going to have to do some creative things with class sizes and doing some stuff with CNCC and stuff at the high school level. I think we’re going to be okay, but we’re still looking.
CP: How will teacher quarantine work with their paid sick days? Will they have to use their quarantine days as sick days?
SP: It’s going to have to be kind of a case-by-case basis. We’re partnering with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment with quarantines and close-contact tracing. When they notify us, then teachers wouldn’t have to take their personal leave. So, it’s going to be kind of case-by-case and will kind of follow exactly like we did last year. Our HR director does a great job with that and making sure that teachers are covered.
CP: I know you’ve been doing several workshops the past few weeks. How have those gone?
SP: They went really well. Last Wednesday, we had one for all the teachers coming back. Last week was great. Teachers got in the room, they got trained. We just were starting a new standard response protocol. We’re starting to kick that off district-wide and then passing those pamphlets out to the parents. (It will be) a standardized system for emergency response like shelter-in-place, lockdowns, lockouts — those types of things.
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Come Jan. 27, Moffat County School District could be looking ahead to a new type of school week.