South Routt schools seek to shed negative image
September 25, 2003
South Routt School District officials say they hope to dispel a community perception that the district’s secondary schools are inferior to its elementary school.
“It’s been a perception for quite some time, particularly at the middle school,” South Routt School Board President Hank deGanahl said.
Much of the high school’s poor image, however, has been shed over the past two years under the leadership of Principal James Chamberlin, deGanahl said. But the way parents and community members perceive the middle school is still a problem.
“I think for the most part (the perception) is unfounded,” deGanahl said Wednesday. “Each parent, understandably, is very protective of their children.”
Speaking last week at a luncheon with Routt County commissioners, South Routt Superintendent Steve Jones said the district will focus this year on changing that perception, largely through community involvement in the schools.
“I think that it’s really important we change that perception,” Jones said. “It’s going to be a big push in our district this year. We have to get more community involvement. We’re selling our community short if they don’t believe our schools are quality schools.
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“We’ve made some significant changes in our schools the last several years, and I think (the situation) may be different than what people still think of it as.”
An initial step in the push for change happened last week at the district’s School Board meeting, when the board charged the District Accountability Committee with the responsibility of generating ways “to utilize communication and parental involvement as major tools to improve our schools and positively impact the perception of our school district.”
Getting parents and community members into the schools will be a significant step in the right direction, deGanahl said.
“Any time you get a parent inside the building so they can see the pluses and minuses themselves, it’s obviously always a positive thing,” he said.
The School Board hopes the DAC, which is representative of the community, will come forward with ideas the community can embrace, deGanahl said.
But part of the change will need to come from the district’s students, too, Jones said.
“Students have to perceive that the high school they go to really is a good school,” he said.
Soroco High School and South Routt Elementary School were rated “high” on last year’s School Accountability Reports compiled by the state Department of Education. Soroco Middle School was rated “average.”
Because of budget cuts, the school district was forced to remove its middle school principal position and merge its middle school and high school.
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