School district launches third series of listening sessions

By Pat Sunderland

School district launches third series of listening sessions | school board,

Photo by Pat Sunderland School superintendent Caryn Gibson opens a community forum with "fun facts" about Delta County Joint School District #50. The school district is hosting a series of community listening sessions in Delta, Paonia, Cedaredge and Hotch

The first of four community forums was hosted by Delta County Joint School District Monday in Delta. On Wednesday, Nov. 9, the school district will hear from the Paonia community with a session that starts at 6 p.m. at Paonia Junior-Senior High School. Next is a gathering in the gym at Cedaredge Elementary School Tuesday, Nov. 15, again at 6 p.m. The series wraps up Wednesday, Nov. 16, with a 6 p.m. meeting at Hotchkiss High School.

Superintendent Caryn Gibson opened the listening session with information about the school district. She shared the common threads that have run through past conversations with community members. Delta County communities take a great deal of pride in their schools, she said. They appreciate school district staff and believe they should be compensated appropriately. As a result of that support, Gibson said the district's licensed professionals received a salary increase of roughly 4 percent and two additional days of paid professional development. Over the past three years of listening, the school district has heard that community members want the schools to provide a quality environment and opportunities that meet students' needs. They also want their rural schools to offer the same options as more urban schools they may have moved from.

A short video, "Success in the New Economy," which explores the "misalignment between education and our workforce" was shown.

The video presents data showing that the new economy is as much about acquiring the knowledge, skills and abilities needed for in-demand occupations as it is to be well educated. The question, then, is how to prepare Delta County students with the technical training and skills they need to be successful in whatever career they choose.

After the video, participants broke into five groups for a "thought exchange" with five questions driving the discussion:

• What is the greatest opportunity that Delta County School District and its schools/communities have in moving forward in the coming one to three years? How do you think DCSD should approach this opportunity?

• What classes/experiences should our schools be offering, particularly at the high school level, in your opinion. This can include classes currently being offered or those not available.

• In trying to bring additional families and businesses into Delta County, what are three things people are looking for when they choose a school for their children to attend?

• If the school district were to offer internships and apprenticeships to junior and senior students, what kind of internships/apprenticeships would you like to see offered and would you be willing to partner with a local school and offer such an opportunity to students in your area?

• How can the community, parents and businesses support and help sustain school programs at all levels? How does DCSD get community, parents and businesses involved?

School board members Ron Germann, Jill Jurca and Tammy Smith said they welcome ideas and thoughts from the community. "We are elected to represent you," Germann said. "All the input we can get, the better to help make decisions."