Board to act on curriculum

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The Odyssey odyssey is nearing another turning point.

After months of community debate and committee deliberations, the Steamboat Springs School Board will take action on proposed curriculum changes -- including the high school's Senior Odyssey program -- at its Jan. 23 meeting.

Superintendent Donna How--ell said the board will take action on the curriculum changes this month to allow time for preparations such as class scheduling, staff planning and funding allocations.

"Once a decision has been made, there's work that has to happen before you can implement (curriculum changes) for next year," Howell said Tuesday.

Ann Sims, director of curriculum and instruction for the district, told board members Monday about the Graduation Requirements Committee's recommendations for the Odyssey program and district foreign language instruction.

The Odyssey recommendation is that the program becomes an optional course next year. Under that scenario, Odyssey would be one of 15 courses students can take to fulfill the district's Career and Technology requirement. Sims also read for the board a "minority report," supported by some committee members, that recommends Odyssey continue as a requirement with modifications to increase scheduling flexibility for students.

The Graduation Require--ments Committee didn't recommended any changes to

the district's foreign language program but asked that another committee be established in coming years to revisit the issue. The district is looking to implement an articulated foreign language program.

The Graduation Require--ments Committee finalized its recommendations at a meeting Dec. 20. At that meeting, high school learning support specialist Carole Buelter walked out, resigning her position on the committee and saying, "It appears obvious that the (School) Board has already determined the fate of Senior Odyssey."

During the School Board's Monday meeting, Graduation Requirements Committee member Bette Van Dahl brought that point directly to board members.

"I believe you need to be held accountable as a School Board, that you wait until the process is done before making your decision," said Van Dahl, who has children in three district schools.

Board members denied that they decided the fate of Odyssey before hearing recommendations from the committee.

"I don't have my mind made up -- I never did," Pat Gleason said. "I don't believe this board ever had an opinion."

"There was nothing underhanded," Denise Connelly said.

Howell said informal talk among people in the community, including board members, may have led to a false impression that the School Board had made a decision about Odyssey.

"Board members, as individuals, may have opinions," she said. "But at no time did this board come together as a body and put out a decision."

The board also will take action on other curriculum proposals Jan. 23, including a class that would study the Bible as a historical and cultural document, two new Career and Technology courses and the articulated foreign language program.

-- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203

or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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