Community evaluates schools |

Community evaluates schools

Audit teams make recommendations to board

— Select members of the community received an inside look as to how schools operate and their individual progress in the Steamboat Springs School District.

The community audit teams presented their evaluated information to the school district Monday night.

Creating community audit teams is one main purpose of the District Accountability Committee, a state-mandated entity of community members informing the public of the school district’s status.

Audit teams consist of community members, some with children, some without, to evaluate and assess the state of each school in the district.

Pat Gleason, chair of the committee, made a few closing comments to the board after representatives from each school spoke on the evaluation from their particular group.

One problem almost every audit team had in evaluating each school was defining self-realization.

A District Accountability Committee and school objective is to “give students the opportunity to demonstrate their growth in self-realization.”

“I’d like for the board to define self-realization. Time and response and success is high at first grade; it’s not at 12th,” Gleason said.

Because the definition of virtues and self-realization vary with age, Gleason recommended integrating these goals throughout grade levels in the district.

“I think they’re compatible. They’re just a different size of the same coin,” Gleason said.

The middle school and high school audit teams were also concerned with the amount of testing and students’ accountability.

“We did see a lot of, ‘Why do I need to take this test?'” said Vicky Barney, chair of the high school audit team. “Maybe we don’t need to test them this much.”

Also, audit teams beginning earlier in the year may make for a more efficient evaluation, Gleason said.

Audit teams are put together about April 1 and are told it will take them about 20 hours, give or take a few.

Audit teams have to evaluate on a scale of one to five one being the lowest rating, five being the highest.

Many auditors had a difficult time judging someone as a three or a five.

“We need to define the classifications so we get some consistency between audit teams and schools and over the years,” Gleason said.

Three years ago, the committee wanted community members to audit somewhat subjectively, but Gleason said now people are recommending a more structured guideline.

“I think the analysis of data is an important thing, but I don’t want to lose sight (of) getting community members in schools to see what’s happening,” said Dan Birch, school board president. “It’s not only to get people in, but look at where we need to be moving them in an educational direction.”

On the scale of one to five, if a school receives a four on the virtues or self-realization goals, it receives $50, based on the community audit team rating. If the school receives a five on those goals, it receives $62.50.

Barney said this pay-for-performance method was a stressful additive to the evaluations.

“Why? Is it knowing how you rank depends on dollars?” said Tom Sharp, school board treasurer.

“Yes,” Barney said.

The money given to each school originates with the half-cent sales tax the community voted on in 1993. Money from the sales tax flows to the Education Fund Board and then is given as a gift to the appropriate areas in the district.

Along with each rating, audit teams have an opportunity to make suggestions and write comments of the evaluation.

Audit members are appointed by the committee, which puts people on a team for a school where those people do not have children.

For instance, the parent of a Strawberry Park Elementary student will not audit that school.

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