RIDGWAY – After suspending existing teacher evaluation policies last August, the Ridgway School Board, on second reading, approved the Policy CFB-Pilot Teacher Evaluation System at last week’s meeting in Ridgway. The new policy’s aim is to better document employee evaluations and performance.
The pilot system, which will be re-evaluated next summer, is the basis for improvement and instruction and implementation of the curriculum and will serve as the measurement of satisfactory performance of teachers.
The 2007-2008 school year was marred by controversy after a decision by the board not to grant tenure to some teachers, which raised questions about how teachers are evaluated and with what criteria.
Under the new pilot program, all teachers in their first three years of employment in the district are defined as probationary for the purpose of the evaluation process. Probationary employees will be evaluated every year, starting by meeting with an evaluator by Sept. 15 to review the process. By Nov. 15 and Feb. 15, each year, probationary teachers will have completed two evaluation cycles that consist of informal observations and meetings and one formal classroom observation. The administrator conducting the evaluations will discuss progress with and provide a written report to each teacher during the evaluation cycle. Finally, a summative evaluation for a probationary employee must be completed by April 15. Non-probationary teachers will be given a summative evaluation at least once every three years, with formal observations occurring each year. By Oct. 1, not-probationary teachers who are due for an evaluation will meet with an administrator to outline the process. In this instance, the employee, in collaboration with the designated evaluator, is responsible for his or her own evaluation, which must be completed by May 1.
The new evaluation process will be evaluated by the school board next summer to see if changes need to be made for its success.
School’s Financial Situation Healthy, for Now
After presenting the Ridgway School Board its 2008-2009 accounting report and audit at last week’s meeting in Ridgway, Rosemary Beckwith characterized the district’s current financial situation as “very healthy.”
Overall, Beckwith, of Rosemary Beckwith and Associates public accounting, said the district’s expenditures have continued to climb in accordance with the overall growth the district has experienced over the past few years.
The Ridgway schools, she said, are “growing like crazy” and “expenditures have increased.” But, she said, as the national economic crisis spreads, Ridgway Schools could see some changes if enrollment changes and begins to drop in numbers.
“You have reserves, a cushion and the ability to make changes,” Beckwith said. “But losing students has such a huge impact on state funding.” She said a growing assessed property valuation, which, through property taxes, has given the district a good “base to work from.
“I really think it is going to take a while before you start to see a drop in property values here,” she said. “That is why I like where you are at right now. But it doesn’t mean you won’t have some bumps ahead. But I feel comfortable.”
Beckwith also added that the school district was also smart to retire some of its bonds early as it goes forward into next week’s election where voters will be asked to approve $2.2 million bonding measure to fund a gymnasium, performing arts studio and music room.
“You are doing some financing things with bonds, and you are paying some things of early and you are saving money,” Beckwith said. Right now Ridgway Schools are “very stable” financially.
Two Fundraisers a Success
Ridgway Schools Superintendent Douglas Bissonette stated in his report to the Ridgway School Board that both the Ski Swap and the Mt. Sneffels Silent/Live Auction, held earlier this month, were a success with the tremendous volunteer support they had received from the school staff.
The Ski Swap raised $4,500 for the Learn to Ski Program. Bissonette said event organizer Deb Willits “deserves recognition and appreciation for all her planning, organization and inspiration.”
Attendance, according to Bissonette, was high at the silent/live auction and attendees had a great time with an abundance if items to bid on.
Bissonette also stated in his report to the board that the number of meals being served at both schools have increased over the last year. With that increase, a part-time kitchen staff at the secondary school was moved to the elementary school and the secondary school is redistributing duties to better cover the bookkeeping and administrative duties. Bissonette said he didn’t believe that these changes would affect the General Fund contribution to food service.