Listening sessions for Steamboat schools’ new strategic plan starts next week |

Listening sessions for Steamboat schools’ new strategic plan starts next week

Work to form a new strategic plan for the Steamboat Springs School District will start next week with the first sessions of a listening tour aimed at getting broad community feedback.

The various virtual sessions are organized by school level with meetings targeted at parents of elementary, middle and high school students. Parents are encouraged to attend the meeting that best works with their schedule, even if it doesn’t correspond with their child’s school. There will also be two sessions held entirely in Spanish.

“This is an opportunity for any individual to provide insights,” said Jay Hamric, director of teaching and learning for the district. “There’s multiple opportunities for anyone to provide a voice to this process during those times.”

The district’s effort to remake its strategic plan has been in the making for about two years, but the effort was set aside at the start of the pandemic. Following the reelection of two board members earlier this month, the effort will ramp back up, and by the end of May, a plan will be produced to replace the current one, which was created during the 2014-15 school year.

There will be four meetings next week. One Monday will focus on middle school students, with two more Tuesday that will focus on elementary students, one of which will be held in Spanish. Another Dec. 9 will focus on the district’s staff. A session about high school students will happen after winter break.

There will be another session Jan. 12 specifically meant for community members to give feedback, even if they don’t have children in the district.

Each of the sessions are being held virtually and require registration ahead of time. Hamric said registration for the first few sessions has been tepid so far, but increased outreach this week will aim to spur more attendees.

While these meetings are happening, the district is also setting up a steering committee of roughly 20 to 30 community members and two board members. Hamric said the committee will meet five times throughout the rest of the school year to form a profile of what they believe a graduate of the district should be, identify priorities for the district and consult on the final plan.

The district collected about 30 steering committee applications, but Hamric said not all of them would be able to serve.

“We’ll go through a process of identifying those individuals — hopefully by the end of the week,” Hamric said. “(There are) some really good individuals who have lots of attributes and characteristics and experiences they are bringing to the table, so I am sure we have some tough decisions to be had this week.”

The first meeting for that group will be Dec. 15.

Board members Lara Craig and Kim Brack will also serve on the steering committee after each expressed an interest to be more involved. Board members will also attend the various listening sessions that start next week, though never more than two, as three or more would make a quorum and technically be a public meeting.

Board members briefly debated whether they should attend these meetings. Katy Lee said when she served on the district committee assessing the 2018 school bond measure, it seemed the presence of board members changed the dynamic in the room and, potentially, the quality of the feedback.

But Craig said she felt strongly about them attending listening sessions and being on the steering committee.

“If we get it secondhand, we’re not really getting the full essence of what people have been saying,” Craig said. “The listening sessions, perhaps maybe are just listeners.”

Brack said she agreed with Craig and noted that other districts that have gone through strategic planning processes have also involved the board.

“I feel very vested in a strategic plan,” Brack said. “I think it shows more that we’re very invested and want to be part of the community.”

Monday was the board’s first meeting after November’s election and required members to assign new roles.

Lee, who previously served as board vice president, will now be board president, with Chresta Brinkman serving as vice president. Craig and Brack will continue to serve as secretary and treasurer, respectively.

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