‘Educator effectiveness’ bill takes effect | AspenTimes.com

‘Educator effectiveness’ bill takes effect

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Kelley Cox/Post IndependentRoaring Fork School District Re-1 kicked off the 2012-13 school year with an all-staff assembly at Glenwood Springs High School on Wednesday. More than 700 district employees, including teachers, school administrators and staff, packed the school's auditorium.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Recent new legislation governing the performance of Colorado public schools, teachers, principals and students should be viewed as an opportunity to enhance learning.

That was one of the messages from Diana Sirko, new interim superintendent for the Roaring Fork School District Re-1, during an all-district staff assembly held at Glenwood Springs High School Wednesday.

The annual staff assembly serves as the official kick-off to the new school year for district employees. Classes begin Monday, Aug. 27, for Re-1 students in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.

“I know there has been a lot of nervousness, especially around Senate Bill 10-191,” Sirko said of the new teacher and principal evaluation procedures that are linked in large part to student academic growth.

New teacher and principal “quality standards” were adopted as part of the so-called “educator effectiveness” bill by the state Legislature. The legislation was signed by former Gov. Bill Ritter in 2010, and the new evaluation procedures take effect with the coming school year.

Also still in the process of being implemented are SB 08-212, which ushered in new, more rigorous academic standards and student assessments, and SB 09-163, related to individual school accountability and annual improvement plans.

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“These are ultimately all about leveraging opportunities for us to be able to deliver what we want for our children,” Sirko said in addressing the more than 750 Re-1 district employees gathered in the Jeannie Miller Theatre at GSHS.

Sirko is a former Aspen School District superintendent who spent the past two years working as a deputy commissioner with the Colorado Department of Education. Part of her work there included helping write the rules for implementing SB 191.

Sirko was selected by the Re-1 school board in early July to take over as interim superintendent for the 2012-13 school year. She replaced Rob Stein, who was tabbed in May to take the reins as superintendent, but had to resign after his wife suffered severe injuries in an early June bicycle accident.

Stein had been selected to replace former Re-1 superintendent Judy Haptonstall, whose contract the school board decided to end following last school year.

“There is something so exciting about the beginning of a new school year,” Sirko said. “There’s always a lot of new energy, and a determination to take our kids to greater heights than ever before.”

Two new school principals join Re-1 this year as well, Drew Adams at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale, and David Schmid at Basalt High School.

School board representatives from each of the three Re-1 communities were also on hand to help kick off the school year.

“I can’t think of a better place to be able to teach, with the quality of the lifestyle here and the quality of what we as a district offer our teachers,” said Re-1 board President Matt Hamilton, whose wife is a teacher in Carbondale.

Hamilton also reminded district employees to continue to thank parents and other voters who supported the $4.8 million mill levy override for Re-1 schools last fall.

“Had that not passed, we would be in a very different position right now,” Hamilton said. “With that comes a responsibility to deliver the best education possible to every child, every day.”

Also highlighting the morning assembly was the presentation of several awards acknowledging 19 staff members and teachers who will mark 15, 20 and 25 years with the district this school year.

The 2012-13 school year begins Monday for all students except those entering kindergarten. Kindergarten classes will begin Sept. 4, the day after the Labor Day holiday. The district’s “late-start” Mondays for students will not begin until Sept. 10.

jstroud@postindependent.com