Results from ASD study to be released in April |

Results from ASD study to be released in April

Aspen Elementary School.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times

Dedicated. Confused. Divided. Approachable. Insular. Passionate. Welcoming.

Those were some of the words used to describe the Aspen School District and the people who run it at a community forum last week, as the campuses’ climate and culture study enters its final stages.

The study is being carried out by Wilson Foxen, a Denver consulting firm the Board of Education hired in December to examine the purported problems — from faculty morale to a lack of trust in the administration — among staff members of the Aspen School District.

On Thursday at the Pitkin County Library, during the second of two community forums held last week, consultant Liz Wilson said the study’s results will be made available in April.

By April 1, Wilson said she will have debriefed the Board of Education about her findings. Wilson also said she expects to fill in the study’s advisory group as well as the district’s staff and the community during the first week of April.

Meanwhile, last week’s community meetings drew modest crowds — roughly 25 people attended the March 12 meeting and about 18 were there Thursday — that were split into focus groups.

In a round-robin format, participants were asked, among other things, what makes them most proud of the school district, what concerns them most, and how they describe cultures of the district, the Board of Education, the district office and other aspects.

Their responses varied, ranging from the wide educational offerings availed to Aspen students to concerns about teacher retention.

“I do hear some similarities and obviously some differences,” said Wilson as she fielded the participants’ answers.

The district’s leadership culture generated such descriptions as lacking transparency and a coherent vision, while some noted it for its effective leadership.

Concerns about the district overall included teachers not having a voice or feeling comfortable expressing their opinions, while both the administration and board have shown a lack of wanting to listen to their concerns.

Wilson completed a survey with the school district’s staff Saturday, and she has met confidentially with members of all of the departments, as well as parents and others.

The climate and culture study comes after the school district’s administrative offices, resulting in the exit of its human resources department’s director and assistant, and the board’s decision not to renew Superintendent John Maloy’s contract past its expiration date of June 30, 2021.

“Since the main focus of this project is workplace culture, we are committed to providing all employees with the opportunity to share their personal opinions and experiences,” the Board of Education said in a January statement about the study. The statement added, “The main priority is to ensure that we have a culture that supports the mission of the district: educating our students to their full potential. This project will focus primarily on one aspect of a district’s culture: the employee experience at all levels and in all functions. There are several areas we have identified regarding culture and climate that we will focus on: trust, leadership culture and the workplace culture.”