January Superintendent’s Blog 

First and Foremost, I want to start by wishing you Happy Holidays!  Because of publishing deadlines I’m actually writing this blog prior to the holidays but it will come out in January, so with that said, I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday break and resting and recharging for the Spring Semester.

Most Board members and I just returned from the Colorado School Board Conference in Colorado Springs.  There were many good workshops and speakers this year and the conference was clearly the best that I have attended since I began as a superintendent in Colorado.  The two main themes at this year’s conference seem to center around Mental Health and the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in education.  As far as the Mental Health aspect, our second keynote speaker emphasized that the real pandemic is the ongoing mental health concerns for our students and staff post Covid, and not Covid itself.  He strongly believes that school must continue to offer services for students and be aware of what our staff is still going through as well.  The AI conversation is interesting to say the least.  His suggestion was that we embrace the changes that are coming in AI and to try our best to use it to our advantage.  There is no use in us pretending that it’s not going to affect us (head in the sand reaction) because it is going to affect us tremendously.  I have now downloaded ChatGPT (I know, late to the game) and I will begin “playing” with it.  I am also watching for opportunities for training that we can attend and eventually offer to our staff to help prepare them for this new era in education.

We had about an inch of snow on the ground this morning which made me think it’s that time of year when we start worrying about “bad weather days”.  Colorado law requires schools to provide a minimum number of hours of instruction with 990 hours for elementary and 1080 hours for secondary.  As a school district, we follow the secondary hour requirement for building the academic calendar. In addition, schools can reduce those hours up to 24 hours for safety reasons and parent-teacher conferences; however, if a school reduces them below 1056 hours, students must make up for lost instructional time. We have built in some extra extra hours in our current calendar, but we still need to be diligent on calling BWD’s.  Additionally, I wanted to explain our behind-the-scenes process of deciding if we will have a BWD.  This process starts the night before with district leadership and regional school superintendents discussing CDOT information, weather forecasts from several platforms, and county emergency management reports and updates.  This conversation continues early in the morning, at 4:30 a.m., through text messages and phone calls.  The target is to make a decision by 5:15 a.m. to allow parents to make work and childcare decisions.During the early morning hours, our transportation director, facilities director and myself drive the roads to check the conditions as they exist in different areas.  Different areas get different amounts of snow, so we have to check many directions.  ​​This team maintains continuous communication throughout the early morning, and from this safety feedback, a consensus is reached.  If a snow day or two-hour delay is appropriate, a wide-reaching and immediate parent and staff communication is launched, including text, phone, email, website, and Facebook. At this point, all of our Principals are involved as well as our Technology Director and others.  These are never easy decisions and a lot goes into them.  You may not always agree with the decision made but please know that we gathered a lot of information and made the best decision possible for all of our families. Quick shout out to my Superintendent friend in Mancos, Todd Cordrey, who provided some of the above information to me

Have a great holiday season, see you in January.