Hayden schools are taking the first steps toward improving student achievement through an education model that emphasizes regular collaboration between teachers.
At the Hayden School Board meeting Wednesday, Hayden High School and Middle School Principal Troy Zabel outlined the benefits of adopting the Professional Learning Communities concept laid out by educator Richard DuFour.
He explained that the model helps break the isolation between teachers and gives them more confidence and peer support. The overall result can be stronger student assessment and intervention plans, as well as a better environment for problem solving and testing new ideas and practices, Zabel said.
"We know from research out there that when this is in place, it has a positive impact on student achievement," he told board members.
After meeting about the subject, Zabel and high school staff determined that the school needs to work on building a schedule to allow for regular quality time for teachers to collaborate, he said.
Gina Zabel, dean of students at the middle school, and Mike Luppes, superintendent and principal of Hayden Valley Elementary School, reported that their schools had made similar progress in working toward Professional Learning Communities goals.
During the teacher comment segment of the board meeting, high school teacher Beverly Lehrer-Brennen read a letter from the Hayden Education Association, a union representing the majority of the district's faculty, outlining its recommendations for staff compensation.
The written approach was necessary because Luppes was unresponsive to HEA's attempts to discuss the organization's position on the matter, the letter read.
Among the association's suggestions was a 3 percent salary increase for certified staff that should be used as a benchmark for future annual salary increases. The group also emphasized that the district should be more proactive in projecting salary and benefits increases for coming years.
"We feel that the declining competitiveness in the compensation of certified staff will continue to cause even higher turnover in our district," Lehrer-Brennen read from the letter.
Among criticisms in the letter was HEA's assertion that the starting salary for Hayden teachers is the lowest in Routt and Moffat counties. The association also stated that the benefits packages for Hayden administrators was better than that of school staff in Steamboat Springs, Soroco and Moffat County.
Neither Luppes nor the board responded to the letter during the meeting.
Also at Wednesday's meeting, the School Board hired district staff to fill basketball-coaching positions at the middle school. Wendy Emerson will be the head girls basketball coach, and Stephanie Davis will fill the assistant coaching position.
Bret Hoover will lead the boys basketball team with the help of assistant coach Kevin Dellitt, the district's media director. Emerson, Davis and Hoover are teachers at the middle school.
The board also hired Jeannie Wixson as the district's Web keeper and Delaine Brown as the new health coordinator.
There was some discussion about the health coordinator job after parent and substitute teacher Kathy Hockett told the board she was interested in the position but was confused about whether she could apply for the job, which was advertised only within the district.
She said she was disappointed the district did not have a clear hiring policy stipulating who is eligible to apply for jobs advertised to district staff and in what situations the district advertises positions to the public.
Board member Brian Hoza suggested the board discuss a more certain policy at a later meeting.
-- To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org