Thompson School District announces plans for re-purposing two schools, state board releases school performance ratings
By Dan Karpiel
At last Wednesday’s meeting of the Thompson School District (TSD) Board of Education, plans were laid out for what to do with two Loveland schools – Van Buren Elementary and Stansberry Elementary – that the board voted to close last May due to low enrollment. Closing both schools will save money for the district.
Stansberry will be repurposed into an early-childhood education center, while Van Buren will become a career and technical education (CTE) facility and serve as the new home for students who would attend Ferguson High School. It is possible the current Ferguson building will be sold and students would move to the CTE facility with an addition built to accommodate those students.
District chief financial operations officer, Todd Piccone, explained the plans for both schools will cost a total of $17 million. Of that figure, $11 million will be used to remodel the buildings to prepare them for their future uses, and the other $6 million will be used to construct additional space at Van Buren to make room for the CTE and Ferguson space.
Each school was allotted $3.2 million as a result of the bond measure approved by voters in November. The board was quick to point out they will not be taking more than the allotted funding from the bond measure, and funding will be used across the district, as promised to voters. Additional funding will come from federal and state grants, and the sale of the current Ferguson High property as well as the sale of a district-owned building in Loveland. Furthermore, the sale of the bonds in January are expected to bring in an extra $15 million, according to district chief financial officer, Gordon Jones. It is also possible partnerships could be created with local businesses and industry, helping to further offset the costs.
There is high demand in the district for both the CTE and for additional early childhood education resources, and the district argued both will help improve the overall education amenities in TSD, referring to the decisions as investments in students and the community.
Three of Berthoud’s four schools meet state performance requirements
Three of Berthoud’s four schools – Ivy Stockwell Elementary, Berthoud Elementary and Berthoud High School (BHS) – met the state’s accountability standards for 2018. Turner Middle School was rated slightly lower. The two elementary schools and BHS received the “Performance Plan” designation, the state’s top ranking, while Turner was designated with the “Improvement Plan” designation, one rung below the other three. As a whole, TSD received the top designation of “accredited” by the state.
Ivy topped all Berthoud schools and was one of the top schools in the entire state, receiving a score of 98.6 (on a scale of 100). Berthoud Elementary received an 81.8 rating and Berthoud High scored 71.1, according to the data released by the Colorado Department of Education last week. Turner’s score of 52.7 merited the improvement plan designation, the second time the school received that rating in the last three years and the third time since the state first published the ratings in 2010, as required by the Education Accountability Act of 2009. Schools that receive a score in the 42.0 to 52.9 range receive the improvement plan designation.
The scores are based on a wide array of metrics, including student achievement and growth on state tests, with high schools also being rated on graduation, dropout and matriculation rates, according to the state.
According to a press release from the Department of Education, “The state’s accountability system is built on the premise that all students should receive a high quality education and graduate ready for college or careers,” said Katy Anthes, Colorado’s education commissioner. “Our goal is to give all students a chance to excel. These designations allow us to identify struggling schools that may need more support to help students achieve their highest aspirations. And they also highlight successful schools so that other schools can learn from them.”
Ivy received a 96.4 rating on academic achievement, and a perfect 100.0 score on academic growth. The school also exceeded state requirements on testing in English/language arts (ELA), mathematics and science on both the academic achievement and academic growth metrics. For free and reduced lunch students and minority students, Ivy met the state expectations. Berthoud Elementary (81.8 overall score) exceeded academic achievement rates (91.1) and met academic growth (75.0). For students with disabilities, Berthoud Elementary did not meet state requirements and was designated as approaching (but not meeting) state requirements for students with disabilities in math and in science for students on free or reduced lunch programs.
BHS also exceeded state requirements for academic achievement (89.4) and met requirements for academic growth (73.9). The school did not meet state requirements for students with disabilities in both ELA testing and math and approached requirements in both math and science for students on free/reduced lunch and disabled students. Taken as a whole, however, BHS students exceeded requirements in all three testing categories.
It should be noted Turner’s improvement plan designation is partially a result of low participation, something the state notes in publishing the rankings, as parents are allowed to have their children opt-out of testing, and if fewer than 95 percent of the students opt out of testing in two or more performance areas the school is designated with the “low participation” addendum. Overall, Turner was rated as approaching, but not meeting or exceeding, the state requirements on both academic achievement and academic growth. Overall, all students met performance requirements on ELA and math but was rated as approaching state requirements in science. Students with disabilities did not meet state requirements in ELA and math and minority students did not meet requirements in science. Other demographic breakdowns, which include English learners and students on the free/reduced lunch program, were all rated as approaching state requirements.
Detailed reports can be found at http://www.cde.state.co.us/schoolview/performance.
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