Guest Commentary: Time is now to get involved with Aspen school district

District Accountability Committee
Guest commentary

Dear Aspen community,

It is an exciting time to be a part of the public school system in Aspen.

Over the next few months, we will be appointing new leadership at the highest levels, including two new school board members and a permanent superintendent.

We also will be working together to make decisions that will affect our students and schools for the next 20 years and beyond.

For the first time ever in our district, we are creating a strategic plan. It’s basically a roadmap for how we will achieve excellence in each critical aspect of our students’ education. Topics include: aligning our curriculum with state standards, improving student test scores, recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers, creating a consistent approach to behavior management, fostering better communication, supporting families, continuing to offer innovative opportunities through outdoor and experiential education, and many more.

In tandem with the strategic plan, a steering committee made up of staff, students and community members will be meeting to create a facilities plan. Working with an architecture firm that specializes in schools, committee members will take a big-picture and long-term view that reimagines not just our three school buildings but our entire school campus. This plan could include: Relocating the bus barn to put that space to better use, additional employee housing, new spaces for science, more preschool classrooms, a community performing arts center and a fieldhouse for athletes.

As members of the District Accountability Committee, we would like to encourage everyone in our community, not just parents, to make their voices heard and get involved as these momentous decisions are being made.

The first opportunity is a work session Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Aspen High School. The beginning of the session will be informational. The second part will be collaborative, with participants breaking into small groups to share opinions on the various parts of the strategic plan. Additional work sessions will be held in October, November and December. The Wednesday meeting will also serve as a kickoff for the facilities planning committee. That committee will meet again on Oct. 14, Nov. 6 and Dec. 4 from 2 to 6 p.m. (The afternoon start time allows students to take part.)

The process will wrap up in January. Both the strategic plan and the facilities plan will be shared at a community open house Jan. 29 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Last year our district took a hard look at our community and culture. This year we will be building on that momentum, defining our community’s values and communicating exactly what we want our schools to be. The decisions we make this fall will and should inform our decision-making for many years to come.

It’s a great opportunity. We encourage everyone to take advantage of it. In addition to voting in the school board election this fall, please come to the work sessions, join the facilities steering committee and make your voices heard.

The District Accountability Committee (DAC) is a collaborative group of parents, community members and district employees who work together to advise school board members and district leadership. State law requires each school district in Colorado to have a DAC. For more information about the DAC or to get involved, please contact Angela Rittenhouse at