SAN LUIS VALLEY—The two school governing bodies, the Moffat School District Board of Education (BOE) and the Crestone Charter School (CCS) Governing Council (GC) met in January for their annual joint retreat.
The main topics of discussion were Superintendent Kirk Banghart’s continued recovery following the removal of a benign brain tumor in January, the GC’s decision to announce Marie-Louise Baker as candidate of choice for the CCS director position and how the two boards can work together to better engage with the community.
It is projected that by the time this article is published Kirk will likely be discharged to continue his physical therapy from home. No surprise to those who know him, Kirk was being referred to as “the rock star” of the acute rehab unit.
The greatest challenge may be to convince him to take his time in continuing his healing rather than jumping back in to work! Please continue to hold Kirk and his family as he continues his recovery.
Many people may not understand the highly unique nature of the Moffat Consolidated School District #2 or the relationship between the BOE and the CCS governing council. There is no other district in the state of Colorado (and probably most other states) as small as this with about 200 students total, that has a charter school.
Historically 35–50 percent (currently about 40 percent) of the overall student population of the district is enrolled in CCS. The district is fortunate indeed to have a choice of schools for its children and young adults in such a small, rural and impoverished school district.
This unique situation is not without its challenges. According to Great Education Colorado (www.greateducation.org) in 2013 Colorado was ranked 47th in the nation in per pupil education funding, and 50th in teacher wage competitiveness, a sad state of affairs. Take an already small pot of money and divide it in half and to begin to understand one of the district’s greatest challenges.
It is also no secret that over the 20 years since CCS received its charter in 1996 that the relationship between the BOE and the GC was at times tense.
The good news is that the days of slashed tires in parking lots (true story) and board recalls are long past. It is clear and undeniable that the relationship between the two governing bodies is at an all time high and has been for the past several years. Both boards are committed to this being the norm.
Yes, a small student population and lack of dollars has its challenges. But, while advocating at the state level to increase school funding, both boards are also focused on the positive aspects of their situation. As the late great economist E.F. Schumacher said “Small is beautiful!” Small class sizes are the envy of many a larger and better funded school district. In addition, the landscape of education is changing rapidly. This small district with two schools is, and will be, better able to change and adapt than larger ones.
Both the BOE and CCS GC use Carver Policy Governance, which empowers their leaders (Superintendent Kirk Banghart for the BOE and Director Marie Louise Baker for CCS) and makes clear the job of the boards.
The job of both boards is to craft policy with an eye to the future and be intermediary between the schools and the greater community, which Policy Governance refers to as “the ownership”.
Leaders in the schools cannot do their jobs effectively without input and involvement from the residents, the ownership. To that end the BOE and GC will be teaming up through the end of this school year and asking for input on a short list of questions.
They will be doing this by engaging with other boards and community groups such as town councils, board of county commissioners, the Crestone Artists and others.
They will also be meeting with small groups that represent different aspects of the community in informal settings to discuss the questions identified. Following this they will also circulate these questions in the form of a printed and online survey. If time and energy permit they may also host one or two larger community gatherings prior to graduation.
The boards always welcome input and feedback on any topic relevant to these two great schools and encourage people to come to BOE and GC meetings, which are all regularly scheduled public meetings. The schedules and agendas can be found at: www.moffatschools.org and www.crestone-charter-school.org. Community members can also contact any board members by e-mail or in person.
Both governing bodies are focused on developing policies that will guide their schools today and into the future. Community participation will inform those policies.