Following are issues that Will believes are important to ASD20 and the Board of Education
- Student Achievement
- Safety and Security
- Faculty Recruitment and Retention
- Facilities and Maintenance
Student Achievement and Assessments
ASD20 is currently the highest performing large school district in Colorado, and this must remain as the district’s top priority. It is essential that the district continues to make its curriculum rigorous for those students who may be college-bound and for those students who may pursue vocational or trade professions. Colorado has changed its assessment testing format over the past three years, which has made it hard to look at longitudinal data to determine if we are improving or declining in performance. I am committed to supporting administration relative to implementing evolving curriculum, making sure that our students are taking the right number of standardized tests, and that those tests are relevant and consistent.
Safety and Security
In today’s world, the safety and security of our nearly 26,000 students has never been more important. ASD20 has programs in place such as Safe2Tell, Signs of Suicide and holds educational programs for parents on numerous issues to include Internet safety. This past school year, the district introduced “Sources of Strength” which focuses upstream on the health of students. I will ensure that we resource the Security Department and continue to work on contemporary issues such as cyberbullying and the impact of social media.
Faculty Recruitment and Retention
Historically low unemployment rates coupled with a dearth of people pursuing careers in education has manifested in a national shortage of qualified faculty in school districts. ASD20’s reputation and competitive pay and benefits has helped us to attract a disproportionate number of candidates when job openings occur in the district. For the 2017/2018 school year, ASD20 was able to hire 234 new faculty members. Recruitment and hiring challenges remain in areas such as special education, speech pathology and other classifications, but ASD20 is doing better than most districts in Colorado. We need to keep our compensation programs competitive in order to attract and retain the best possible faculty and administration. The BOE and administration must remain vigilant in this important area.
Colorado’s general budget situation is extremely complex, with a greater percentage of the budget every year committed to Medicaid, Corrections, transportation and other state obligations. This has impacted both K-12 and higher education funding for several years now. The majority of Colorado’s 178 school districts have had to deal with the “Negative Factor”, which is a proportional reduction of the per pupil funding each district should receive by a formula that considers numerous factors such as population, tax base, special needs, enrollment, etc. This year, our Negative Factor will reduce the district’s formula-driven Total Program Funding by over $22 million. I will work with our legislative delegation and support the district’s legislative and financial team to make sure we have a voice on this issue.
The district has long paid attention to legislation that is both supportive and deleterious to the district and its students. Recently, the Board of Education has been extremely involved with its peers in Colorado to ensure that there is a strong voice for education in the Legislature. I will do everything that I can to support the district’s outstanding team of subject-matter experts in the area of legislative affairs.
Facilities and Maintenance
ASD20 is blessed to have supportive parents and partners who understand the importance of maintaining, enhancing and adding facilities commensurate to the needs and growth of the district. It is projected that ASD20 will become the largest school district in the Pikes Peak Region within the next 3-5 years.
I was proud to serve on the Growth and Capital Needs Committee in 2015/2016 with numerous dedicated individuals from across the district to listen to the needs of every school and major department in ASD20. The committee also visited every school and major facility in the district to gain a tangible understanding of each facility.
Thereafter, I was pleased to Co-Chair the Yes on 3A private citizens committee with Laurie Uddenberg and several phenomenal committee members to help promote the passage of the district’s $230 million bond issue last November.
It is important to have great faculty complemented by well-maintained and designed facilities. I will remain committed to ensuring that ASD20 stays committed to this philosophy.