Crossan continues meetings with nonprofit groups
January 6, 2010
Steamboat Springs — Personal finance, communication and writing skills, computer literacy, foreign languages and ethics.
Those were some of the common answers provided Tuesday by Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs members in response to a question posed by Steamboat Springs School Board President Robin Crossan. She asked them what they think Steamboat Springs School District students should know and be able to do by the time they graduate from high school.
Crossan's question is part of an ongoing community engagement effort the School Board undertook in August. She met with the Rotary Club at its weekly meeting at Olympian Hall inside Howelsen Hill Lodge. Board members Laura Anderson, Denise Connelly and Brian Kelly joined Crossan.
After the meeting, Crossan said the sessions provide the School Board with an opportunity to inform the community about what's happening in the district and get feedback from residents.
"We need to be transparent," she said. "We need to know what the community values in education. We support the community. We need the community to support us."
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It's Crossan's goal to meet with all 44 nonprofit groups and organizations listed on the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association's Web site. So far, the response has been overwhelming, she said.
The question Crossan asked is based on the district's results policies: all students are learning in a safe environment and are prepared to succeed in an ever-changing world; students will have and apply essential academic skills and knowledge; and students will have and apply essential ethical, personal and workplace skills and knowledge.
Other answers provided by Rotarians, in addition to the knowledge of the subjects taught in school, included employer expectations, a strong work ethic, the ability to think critically, instilling the desire to be involved in the community, responsibility and accountability.
Rotarian Donna Weinman, who works for the Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services and has two children in the district, said she appreciated the School Board's reaching out to members of the community in a systematic way.
"I feel like we have a voice directly to the School Board," she said.
Another Rotarian, Brooks Kellogg, a retired real estate developer whose career began as a high school English teacher in Chicago, said he appreciated the presentation. He said even though he and his wife don't have children, they follow the district closely.
"I think we live in Steamboat because of the quality of life. That's why we're here," he said, speaking generally. "If you found someone who didn't care about quality of life, they'd be lying. Schools are a big part of quality of life."
Superintendent Shalee Cunningham took that thought a step further in explaining the importance of the district's community engagement efforts.
"The schools belong to the community," she said. Cunningham added that working with the community is a daily part of her job.
Before she asked the Rotary Club members the question, Crossan gave a brief presentation about the district's 2010-11 budget, which it already has started working on.
She said with less funding from the Education Fund Board, increased BOCES assessments and projected statewide cuts to K-12 education for the next several years, the district is looking at reducing its budget by $2 million next school year.
"We look at this as a tremendous challenge, a challenge for us to dig deep and see what we can do without," she said. "We also look at it as an opportunity. It's an opportunity for us to do more with less."
Crossan said she would continue meeting throughout the school year with community groups and organizations.
She said the budget would become a larger part of the presentation as the district continues to get more information from the state. That will allow the community to provide the district feedback as it considers cuts, Crossan said.