Weekly Superintendent Update, Oct. 22, 2021

Weekly Superintendent Update, Oct. 22, 2021
Posted on 10/22/2021
dr sirko

I want to start off this week’s letter with tremendous news - through hard work and dedication, Chatfield Elementary School is moving all the way from turnaround status to performance status! The Colorado Department of Education’s accountability system assigns schools a rating of turnaround, priority improvement, improvement, or performance based on academic achievement and academic growth. Chatfield was able to improve so much between CMAS testing in 2019 and CMAS testing in 2021 (there was no CMAS testing in 2020), that they leapt from the lowest level to the highest level! This is an achievement worth celebrating for Chatfield students and their teachers and staff members. Way to go!


I also want to congratulate all four of our high school marching bands, who qualified to compete in the Colorado Bandmasters State Marching Band Festival! Central, Fruita Monument, and Grand Junction high schools will compete at the Class 4A-5A State Marching Band Festival Oct. 29-30 at the Air Force Academy, and Palisade High School will compete Nov. 1 at the Class 1A-3A festival at CSU-Pueblo. In addition, I'm also proud of our Central High School softball team for competing in the Class 5A State Softball Tournament this morning.


I hope you have a wonderful weekend planned. Don’t forget, our School Board is hosting a Board Coffee at 9 a.m. tomorrow, Oct. 23, in Room 222 at the Colorado Mesa University Center. This will be a great chance to have a conversation with the board about education topics important to you! Also, a quick reminder that Mesa County Public Health is now offering Binax rapid testing at the fairgrounds testing site for D51 staff and students. More information is included in an email sent to all staff and families yesterday.


Introducing Kari Sholtes

This Tuesday, Kari Sholtes was sworn in as the newest member of the District 51 Board of Education! Dr. Sholtes is a D51 mom, a Grand Junction High School graduate, and teaches engineering at Colorado Mesa University through the CMU/CU Boulder program partnership. The other board members selected Dr. Sholtes because they were impressed with her background and know she will bring a unique, detail-oriented perspective to the board. The board was required by state statute to interview and appoint a new member to replace Mr. Pitton within 60 days of his resignation, and the appointment will last through the end of Mr. Pitton’s term in 2023.


Healthy Kids Colorado Survey

Six District 51 middle and high schools are administering the Healthy Kids Colorado survey this fall: Grand Mesa Middle School, Fruita 8/9 School, Fruita Monument High School, Grand Junction High School, Palisade High School, and R-5 High School. The survey collects information about student health and well-being anonymously and confidentially. The results have a huge impact on services and education for young people, helps identify strategies to prevent dangerous behaviors before they happen, tracks trends over time, and increases public awareness and shapes public policy regarding health issues impacting Colorado's youth.


The middle and high school surveys differ. Examples of both surveys can be found here. Topics include mental health and suicidal ideation, gender and sexuality, school safety, violence, tobacco and substance abuse, exercise and nutrition, and basic demographic information. The high school survey also includes questions about sexual health and consent. Parents receive an email two weeks ahead of the survey that includes an opt out option for the survey. I do hope you consider having your child participate - these are tough subjects, but ones we need to address in order to understand and protect the physical and mental well-being of students. The survey, administered for the past 30 years, has already helped reduce many health-related issues and increase youth awareness and education over time.


Candidate Endorsements

Ahead of the Nov. 2 election, I want to reiterate that District 51 does not endorse candidates for school board or any other office. A recent newsletter from the Mesa County Democrats, in which the party endorsed school board candidates, included an image of the D51 logo without our knowledge or consent. While the newsletter never said that D51 was endorsing candidates, this was not authorized, and district personnel asked the party to remove the logo as soon as they learned of the newsletter. While the logo was not immediately removed due to technical difficulties, it was removed as soon as possible at the district’s request.


While we cannot as a district endorse candidates or ballot measures, we can encourage all registered voters to make their voices heard, however they want to fill out their ballots. If you have not yet turned in your ballot, please do so before 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 2. Participating in democracy is an important example to set for our children, and there are issues on this ballot that will impact students. For information about dropping off your ballot, click here.

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