South Routt district sets priorities |

South Routt district sets priorities

Budget cuts and dwindling student enrollment have hit the South Routt School District hard during the past couple of years, but one might not know it at first glance.

Student test scores steadily have improved, significant facility improvements are complete, and the district’s relationship with the community is at its highest level in years, many say.

The district’s success during tough times is a credit to its administrators and teachers, South Routt School Board members said last week. But making sure the district stays on its present course is a not-so-small task that board members know rests upon their shoulders.

First on the School Board’s list of priorities for the next year is replacing two successful and popular administrators. Superintendent Steve Jones retires at the end of the 2004-05 school year, and South Routt Elementary School Principal Troy Zabel resigned last week to become principal at Hayden High School, his alma mater.

Jones and Zabel represented one-half of an administrative team School Board members say is largely responsible for recent successes.

“We’ve been pretty lucky in terms of our administrative staff,” board member Tim Corrigan said. “We should enjoy the fact that we had these guys as long as we did.”

Last week, the district hired teacher Kim Rabon as the elementary school’s interim principal. She’ll remain in that position through the 2004-05 school year.

The School Board already has a search process in place to find Jones’ successor, and a similar search process might be used to find a permanent replacement for Zabel.

Monitoring the growth anticipated for Stagecoach is another priority of the board, its members said. Last month, they met with a Routt County planner to discuss development in the area, and board members said they’ll remain persistent in their attempts to have Stagecoach land dedicated to the district for a future school site.

Some growth estimates for the Stagecoach area indicate as many as 150 school-age children could move into the area in the next five years, providing an enrollment and revenue boom for a district that has lost dozens of students during the past couple of years.

“I think it’s going to be really huge,” School Board member Bill Babcock said. “It’s just growing leaps and bounds. I think it’s here to stay.”

Other School Board priorities include refining the district’s alternative school, whose teacher resigned last week, and remaining vigilant with budgetary issues.

Concern for the future of the district was met with praise for past and present successes during last week’s discussion.

“I’m really excited about the school district, where it’s headed and the things we’ve achieved the last four and five years,” Babcock said.

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