Week of 9.30.16

Wow – it’s almost October!  I know with the significant pace of the beginning of the school year, these days are whizzing by.  It seems like only moments ago we were getting started on this school year.

We’ve got a long weekend break coming up in a couple of weeks where you can catch your breath, but try and consciously take some time to slow it down, appreciate the natural beauty of this time of year (it’s fleeting!), and enjoy a moment taking stock of all our blessings.

Looking at Student Task

Some of you may have noticed me popping into classrooms, looking over shoulders, and chatting with students.  Don’t worry, this isn’t some kind of extra-evaluation!  I’m deeply interested in student tasks (the things we are asking our students to do or demonstrate) in which our kids are engaged.

Specifically, I’m looking to see how we are really bringing the Global Ready Skills to life. Please keep up the focus on this – it’s where the real revolution in education is happening.

If I come by, please just say “hi” and continue on.  If you have a moment, you can explain to me what’s happening in you room, but don’t let me interrupt your work and art.  I’m just there to learn and thanks (in advance) for welcoming me.


Employee Salaries and the Mill Levy (Belt and Suspenders!)

While I’m not able to encourage anyone to vote for or against anything on the ballot in my professional role, I do have a responsibility to provide accurate information.

I’ve heard rumors lately about whether or not the Mill Levy contains any guarantees that the funds would actually go to employees.  Avoiding the temptation to discuss the credibility of the source of these rumors, let me address the issue directly.

The Mill Levy question contains specific language outlining where these funds can (and cannot) be spent.  You can read the exact ballot language on the Mill Levy yourself here:


That first bullet means “Recruiting and Retaining Quality Teachers and Staff” is one of the specific areas that the $8 million the mill levy would generate can be spent.  Ostensibly, this means higher wages for employees.

The Board of Education further clarified that this would be the purpose of these funds by unanimously passing a resolution on June 1, 2016 that designated “fully 50%” of the mill levy funds would be used for employee compensation (and approximately 22% be used for increased staffing).  You can read that here:mloresolutionThe June 1, 2016 Resolution also states that the distribution of the funds would be determined through a recommendation from the Negotiations Team (made up of ECS administration and the Eagle County Education Association) in November.

How much would this potentially mean would be available?  Well, a 1% raise for our employees costs about $400,000.  This resolution and the ballot language together would guarantee half of the Mill Levy (an $8 million dollar revenue increase) be for employee compensation.  You can do the math.

The Mill Levy is a property tax increase and everyone should do their own critical thinking in reaching their personal decision.  However, I did just want to directly address this issue.

(More) Unsolicited Financial Advice

Happy Triple Pay Friday!

Two years ago, we shifted all employees to bi-weekly pay.  One of the benefits of this is that twice each year, there are months that have three paychecks instead of two.  Today is one of those days!

Many of you know I am a proponent of Dave Ramsey’s “7 Baby Steps” method of financial planning.  Perhaps the toughest of these are the first two steps:  Step 1 – Save $1,000 for a beginner emergency fund, and Step 2 – Pay off all debt except for the house.

These triple pay months give everyone a great opportunity to get a jump on wherever you are in your process.  I realize the temptation of the latest $4,000 mountain bike (made out of alien spacecraft materials), or that set of skis (that are finally going to make you Bode Miller) are tempting – but consider giving yourself peace and a permanent raise by putting some emergency cash in place and knocking out your debt.

If you don’t like the feeling of financial security and being debt-free, you can always go get a loan … but I’m betting you won’t!  If you’d like some help getting control of your monthly expenses, you might try the free online budgeting tool, EveryDollar.

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” – Anatole France


We’re getting lots of great recognition!  For example:

Congrats to Homestake Peak’s Kelly Casber, awarded the 2016 Outstanding Educator Award by the Colorado Council of Teachers of Mathematics!


Congrats to GES’s Tanya Farmer and Lindsay Hawkins, who were acknowledged at the Great Education Colorado Luncheon, honoring Colorado’s Teachers!


Congrats to all of us!  I was in D.C. for two days last week.  First, I accepted a recognition for the district for our efforts in getting more disadvantaged students taking and passing AP exams by from the Equal Opportunity Schools organization.

Also, Eagle County Schools was one of just three districts featured by the U.S. Department of Education at Secretary King’s multilingual education symposium for our progress in expanding language education options for students.  I had the chance to sit next to the executive director and teacher of the year from ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages).  They produced this great video, highlighting the importance of this work.  I’ll share it with you here:

Vail Daily Articles

My Vail Daily Articles the past two weeks critiqued both Mr. Trump and Senator Clinton’s education policy approaches.  Read more about them clicking the links below:

Trump’s Education Policy Approach

A Look at Clinton’s Education Policies


Catching Up with the Board of Education

The Board met this past Wednesday and discussed a number of issues including updates to the district’s strategic plan, single-subject and grade acceleration for students, a community climate action plan, school safety, a performance-pay report, and resolutions being considered by the Colorado Association of School Boards.  The Board also discussed the upcoming National School Boards Association meeting (being held in Denver this year) and the process and membership of the District Accountability Committee.

You can read the Board agenda and accompanying documents here.

Ski Pass Questions!

Once the frost hits, we start getting questions about employee ski pass discounts.  Never fear!  Vail Resorts has already been in contact and we’ll have you ready to go before the lifts open.

Employee passes for this year will be $459 for Vail and Beaver Creek and $549 to add Breckenridge, Keystone, and A-Basin.  These passes have no blackout dates.

Be on the lookout for more information coming from HR on how to request the necessary documentation for these passes.  Don’t worry – we are on it!


Mock Election

Students in grades 5-12 will participate in a district-wide mock election on October 12.  Jenna Barclay has distributed curricular support materials in Schoology and we’ve put together a communication for parents (in English and Spanish) explaining the mock election, why we are doing it, and how parents can support.  This is an opportunity for our kids to employ a number of Global Ready Skills and for us all to advance the value of tolerance – practicing civility and respect toward others, even though we may disagree with their values and beliefs.

Catching Up with Social Media

Check out this Storify Post, highlighting stuff happening on Twitter under #ecsrocks.

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