The new falcon herald logo.
El Paso County Colorado District 49

From the CEO – Student participation with BOE

As a leader in school innovation, one of the lessons we take to heart in District 49 is that all of us are smarter than any of us. Paying attention to the ìwisdom of the crowdî has led to meaningful initiatives like the LEx Center at Odyssey Elementary School and the Innovation Institute, a sixth-grade ìschool within a schoolî at Horizon Middle School.Most of the time our conversations about innovation and improvement feature a chorus of adult voices. Occasionally, we invite some older students to share ideas, but we have never built a systematic way to gather studentsí insights ó until now. Earlier this month, the Board of Education approved a new, district-level council called the Student Board of Representatives or SBOR. Last January, our community led via the board of directors to task district leaders with creating a structure for bringing student voice into district decisions. Over the next several months, I met with high school student councils and other student leaders to brainstorm about if and how they would like to be involved in district leadership. They were enthusiastic and eager to join the district conversation, so each high school sent representatives to a series of planning meetings where students and advisors collaborated on new policies, bylaws and a representative plan. Student representatives came and presented to the board of directors about what they had to offer and what they expected in return.After months of discussion and anticipation, District 49 formally adopted a system that invites students from every high school to participate in the work and learning of district leadership. Although Colorado law prohibits students from serving as voting members of a local school board, student members on the SBOR will have the same access to the agenda and meeting packet as the adult board members. They will be seated at the same table and will take part in the same discussions. With the exception of confidential matters discussed in executive session, students will add their particular wisdom to every discussion. To make sure that every school shares the opportunity and responsibility for leadership, the student members will rotate monthly. At each work session and regular meeting of the board of education, a pair of students from two different district high schools will attend and lead. When the SBOR identifies specific issues, the student may bring proposals or requests directly to the district board. Although the students represent high schools, our intention is that they will also consider the needs of fellow students from K-12.I cannot predict what kinds of insights and initiatives our students will bring, but I am confident our students represent a rich source of perspectives to help all our district leaders be more student-centered. In the years to come, the Student Board of Representatives will be a source of pride and participation for our entire district.Another opportunity for students and others to shape district decisions is already up and running. As part of our transition to autonomous zones of innovation, District 49 allowed schools and zones to adopt differentiated and localized calendars. Although we have explored some non-standard and customized arrangements of the school year, the overall innovation has been unsuccessful. Between transportation duplication, scheduling challenges, and general confusion (for parents and staff) the innovation to allow independent calendars has not delivered enough positive results to make up for the problems it created. So, we have launched a community process to better understand our communityís expectations and priorities for the school calendar. Every staff member, parent, student in the district, and any interested community member is invited to complete a calendar survey that addresses school year start and end dates, major breaks, special holidays, and professional work days. Our plan is to propose a two-year calendar to our board of directors early in the new year. After a final round of public input and board deliberation, we expect to adopt a newly re-unified calendar in February. That unified calendar may not please everyone, but the final proposal will be fully informed by the wisdom of our community.With both the student board and the calendar survey, we are grateful for the ideas and guidance of our community. In this season of gathering together, I am thankful to serve in a district that not only says it wants to hear from the community, but takes measurable steps to be a better listener. Thank you for making our efforts worthwhile.

StratusIQ Fiber Internet Falcon Advertisement

Current Weather

Search Businesses

Search Businesses