Schools begin audit Monday

Evaluation to study school district curriculum, systems

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Even a great school district can improve.

Taking the Steamboat Springs School District to the next level of excellence is one of the main goals behind a curriculum audit that begins next week, Superintendent Donna Howell said.

Beginning Monday, two auditors from Indiana-based Phi Delta Kappa International will be in Steamboat to tour district schools, interview parents, teachers, students and others involved with the district and collect documents detailing district curriculum, technology and organization.

"This is not an evaluation of people," Howell said earlier this week. "This is an evaluation of the systems and procedures we have in place."

The result of the audit -- at an estimated cost of $22,000 -- will be a report describing the state of the district, in which areas the district excels and in which areas the district can improve.

The focus of the audit is on district curriculum and instruction, Howell said. The audit also will look at any areas that impact curriculum and instruction, including policy governance, planning, facilities, administrative structure, technology, professional development, resource allocation and student outcomes.

"It's a very comprehensive process," Howell said.

The five standards by which the audit will measure the district are governance and control, direction and learner expectations, connectivity and consistency, assessment and feedback, and productivity and efficiency.

Howell said she hopes the results of the audit will provide the district with an objective, professional evaluation of many of its programs.

Hiring Phi Delta Kappa International for the audit stems from an Education Fund Board desire to evaluate the programs the city's half-cent sales tax for education has funded over the years.

"We're really trying to make sure the taxpayers are getting the best bang for their buck," Fund Board President Jim Gill said. "We've tried to come up with evaluation matrices and criteria for some time. It's difficult to do."

Hiring an outside firm with more than 20 years' experience in curriculum audits of school systems was a logical option.

"I'm looking forward to it," Gill said.

Although the School Board approved the hiring of Phi Delta Kappa International to conduct the audit, two of the Fund Board's three commissions have brought forward funding requests that would cover the entire cost of the audit.

The School Board said at a March meeting the district would cover the costs of the audit if the Fund Board wasn't willing to.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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