September! How did that happen?!?! I hope everyone is excited about our first long weekend and has plans for a fun Labor Day weekend. We’ve got a ton of important stuff to cover in this week’s edition, so let’s jump right in.
IMPORTANT! Sir Ken Robinson Comes to Eagle County Schools! In the afternoon and evening of October 14, 2016 Eagle County Schools (in partnership with the Vail Symposium) will host internationally renowned education researcher, Sir Ken Robinson. Robinson’s TED talk videos have been watched by tens of millions across the world and he is an acclaimed futurist and education visionary. For a glimpse into Sir Ken’s ideas, check out this TED talk.
In addition to Sir Ken, the evening will feature a panel of state leaders from Colorado, discussing the origins and potential solutions to the ongoing school funding crisis in the state.
We’ve secured a number of seats for Eagle County Schools staff for this event, but we won’t be able to accommodate everyone. As this weekend is the beginning of our fall break and that day is an educator workday, we’ve got three options for you to choose from:
- OPTION #1 – Start work at your school at 12:00 noon on October 14 and attend the Educate! event with Sir Ken Robinson. The Educate! event will run from 3:00 – 8:30 and heavy appetizers will be served. If you are interested in this option, click here to ENTER THE LOTTERY for it by midnight on September 21. ALL staff (including certified, administration, support staff) interested in attending the Sir Ken event should enter the lottery and you will be notified of your status by September 23. For hourly support staff, with supervisor approval you are also welcome to enter the lottery and you will be paid for attending. Staff from the Eagle County Charter Academy are not eligible to enter this lottery as ECCA chose not to take part.
- OPTION #2 – Work a regular work day (if you are scheduled) on October 14. For teachers, administrators, and some support staff – this is a scheduled work day. You would report in the morning at your school and work a regular work day. You would not attend the Educate! event. Those not entering the lottery and not selected would default to this option. If you wish to chose Option #2, you need not take any special action, just show up and work on October 14 as scheduled.
- OPTION #3 – Start your fall break early. You may also choose to start your fall break early and take October 14 off work. This option requires supervisor approval and will result in a Leave Without Pay deduction on your next check for certified staff as this is a contracted work day. If you wish to use this option, check with your supervisor and turn in for Leave Without Pay for the day.
Please contact myself or Tammy Schiff via email if there are questions and (for those entering the lottery) good luck!
Vail Daily ArticlesMy articles over the past two weeks focused on the upcoming election and told the story of both the state and local contexts and how the Board of Education came to make the decision to put our Mill Levy and Bond questions on the ballot this fall.
From 8.23.16, A Pivotal Moment, touches on the state conditions related to school funding.
From 8.31.16, Crafting the Right Proposal, discusses the local process we went through to arrive at the proposals that are on the ballot this fall.
Assessment ResultsPARCC and CMAS data have now been released at the school level statewide and we also have ACT results in. Chalkbeat Colorado has published PARCC results at the state, district, and school level.
As a district, we saw some real progress at the secondary level. PARCC results are near or exceeding state averages and we saw tremendous progress in math – an area of historical concern for the district. ACT composite results went from 19 last year to 19.7 this year and the percentages of students both taking and passing college level courses (DE or AP) raised 10% in the district. We are still waiting on the finalized graduation rates. Our middle schools continue to perform very well, far exceeding state averages in most cases.
At the elementary level, the results were more mixed. While we did see growth in 4th grade, several other areas are lagging state averages and we saw a concerning decline at the 3rd grade from 2015 to 2016. We’re pulling together principals and some teaching staff next week to get into what’s happening there and make some changes. While it would have been better to have this data in the summer to be proactive on changes, this is what we have and we need to look deeply at the data and adapt.
Looking at PARCC particularly, two-years do not make a trend so we should not over-react either positively or negatively to these results. Also, PARCC again changed the test structure from 2015 to 2016 so it is not clear how well the data compare.
That said, it does appear that, in spite of far exceeding state levels in terms of English Language Learners students, the longer we have kids in our system the better they do. However, we’ve got to confront what I think are some real challenges at the elementary level and see how we can get more traction there as well as continue the positive (albeit short-term) trends at secondary. Look for more coverage on this issue in the Vail Daily and more work in your schools interacting with the data.
No Worksheets for a Week Challenge! September 6 – September 13Are you ready for a challenge? Do the words of our keynote speaker, Scott McLeod, continue to invade your thoughts? Then, let’s all band together and create an amazing week of learning for our kids!
The challenge: For one week, give up worksheets – and pretty much anything that resembles them – textbook pages, workbook pages, copies of any sort.
Instead, launch kids into a passion project, a genius hour, or a series of exploratory experiences all in an effort to engage them in tasks that demand the use of global-ready skills, get digital by expanding on local and global learning spaces, and enable ownership of the what they want to learn and how they want to do it.
Share what you are doing by posting messages and images using the link below – and possibly receive a $250 classroom budget for posting the most examples!
The challenge begins September 6th and runs through September 13th. Check in Schoology for more info on the challenge and some examples of more engaging tasks for our kids. Let’s do this, ECS!!
ECS Biking Jerseys!Want to rock a SWEET ECS bike jersey? for only $35, you can! Whether you love to race, hit the boneyard after work, or prefer cruising on your roadie, now you can sport your district pride while you are out. Available on both men’s and women’s styles, you can be sure and get one that works for you.
Once you submit your order, we will contact you with delivery and payment details. All orders must be submitted by September 16, 2016!
Education Week – FREE Digital Subscription to ECS StaffWe feel that it’s a professional responsibility to keep up with current education practice and policy news and trends.
To make that easier, you can access the full suite of Education Week publications (Education Week, Teacher, Digital Directions, Market Brief, and TopSchoolJobs) from any ECS network. Enjoy!
Catching up with the Board of EducationThe big news from the last board meeting was the Board’s decision to place the Mill Levy Override and Bond on the ballot, which was greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd. Read more about it here.
The Board will be moving all its future agendas to an electronic program called Board Docs instead of the paper and “PDF” formats currently used. Watch for the change with the next meeting and let me know if there are any questions or if you need support.
Efec Grant Applications are Open!
Apply by September 9th for grants related to equity and staffing, arts and music, and STEM programs.
Reminder – Election Do’s and Don’tsNow that we are officially on the ballot, there are some restrictions on what you can and can’t do at work for anything related to the election. While you are free to support or oppose anything, as is your constitutional right, state law puts some prohibitions on such activities are part of our professional roles.
Read more about those restrictions HERE FROM THE COLORADO FAIR CAMPAIGN PRACTICES ACT and please continue to send me any questions you might have and we’ll work to respond quickly.
ECS Charitable Giving
As a central part of our community, Eagle County Schools has a strong interest in helping local charities that assist local students and families. We have created the opportunity for you to contribute to one of our local charities through payroll deduction. Designated funds are directed to the charity of your choice and clearly stated on your check stub(s) for tax purposes.
If you would like to participate, please print and complete this Charitable Giving Form and return it to Human Resources by the first of the month.
September Paychecks, Giving Yourself a Raise, and Unsolicited Advice
September is an unusual pay month as returning staff who met professional expectations will see an extra amount (1.5% of annual earnings) in your paycheck today. Also, September is a triple-paycheck month with an extra check coming the last Friday of the month. Special Kudos to our payroll specialist Amy Moreno and Human Resources Director Adele Wilson for getting everything set up during these important times. Thanks also to all the Finance and HR staff members for their efforts.
Check your pay in the employee portal and contact Human Resources if you believe there is a problem or question. We are committed to paying our employees accurately and in a timely manner but you can help by letting us know if there is a concern.
Unless the Mill Levy Override passes, there won’t be any raises this year. However, you can give yourself a permanent raise in terms of your take-home pay by paying off recurring debt.
Many of you know that I’m a big fan of Dave Ramsey’s “Baby Steps” model to personal finance. September gives you a great opportunity to get started on your process to financial freedom by starting your $1,000 emergency fund, paying off debt, or building wealth.
We’ve got all the temptations we need here in terms of recreational equipment, restaurants, and travel plans to blow through some real money in a hurry – but I encourage you to slow down a bit and think about how you can use the additional cash coming in this month to make some strategic moves that will set you up for a better financial future.
TeachPlus Fellowship OpportunityTeach Plus, a national non-profit that empowers teachers to lead improvements in policy and practice, is expanding the scope of its Teaching Policy Fellowships for Colorado. The Fellowship will engage teachers from across the state to help guide policy decision-making and impact key state-level issues, such as the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Fellowship is launching throughout the fall of 2016 and continuing into spring 2017 to provide teachers with advocacy opportunities in conjunction with the legislative sessions in the state.
Vilar Underground Sound
As in previous years The Vail Valley Foundation’s Underground Sound Series is offering 7 shows & 7 drinks for an amazing $100, which are now on sale. Single tickets for each show will go on sale 9/12 and range by show from $24-$48 and, don’t forget, parking is free!
The series kicks off with Brendan James who reminds me of Amos Lee, who became hugely popular after recognizing this up & comer at a previous one of our series. Love New Orleans culture? Then don’t miss Vaud in the Villains which we expect to be a fun party show. Mandolin Orange is truly our most up and coming show with a folk bluegrass jam vibe who remind me of artists such as Elephant Revival; they were here this past winter with WinterWonderGrass and we just couldn’t get enough. Igor Butman and the Moscow Jazz Orchestra provides us jazz with one of the best saxophonists in the world at a very accessible pricepoint. Ottmar Liebert will transport you to somewhere very near to my heart in Southern Spain; he’s been nominated for multiple Grammy’s and is a neat mix of Santana and Flamenco guitar styles – a perfect mix for a night of tapas and vino tinto. K Phillips has that hip, raspy rock/country combo sound with the bad boy vibe. Mandy Harvey is deaf which makes it all the more incredible that her voice is so beautiful and pitch perfect – I’d put her up there with the likes of Nora Jones and Sarah McLachlan.
Get your groove on and we’ll see you there!
Catching Up with Social Media
See this Storify Post for all that’s been going on the past couple of weeks.
If you’d like to show up in this feed, tag your Twitter or Facebook posts with #ecsrocks!