Rock Springs community voices concerns regarding SWCSD#1

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Emma Marsing, [email protected]

ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING — Last Thursday, Sweetwater County School District #1 held a public forum for members of the community to ask questions to not only the Board of Trustees but to Central Office workers, school principals, and the heads of transportation and school grounds.

The first concern for the School District came from one of their very own teachers, Kelsey Johnson a 5th-grade teacher at Pilot Butte Elementary. Johnson began her statement by showing her appreciation for the District for holding the forum. Johnson noted that one of the biggest frustrations on the teacher’s side is that they do not feel like they are being listened to. Although Johnson did not have a direct question for the Board and Staff, she voiced that it would help if the staff around the district saw the Board and Superintendent McGovern at their schools and within their classrooms. The Board agreed to make things work as many of them do have full-time jobs, but they are willing to take the time to come see the teachers and students within the schools.

Another question that was brought to the Board and Staff was in relation to knowing if the concerns of parents and staff are actively being worked through. Trustee Cole Wright explained that he receives multiple emails a day from concerned citizens and staff members and that he does his best to respond to their questions or update them. Due to certain laws within the state, the Board cannot meet as often as they may like, so they hold board workshops as often as possible where decisions are made based on the concerns citizens and staff have.

Moving forward, many citizens within the School District voiced concerns regarding the Rock Springs High School and other elementary school grounds. Glen Suppes, Rock Springs High School Principal, explained that the school does have restrooms that go in and out of operation, and that comes with the age of their plumbing system (50+ years old). He also noted that they currently have a restroom that is not in operation due to the doors being ripped off, but other restrooms have been opened to accommodate that closure. In regards to the elevators not functioning at the High School, Director of Facilities Dan Selloreli explained that the elevators are currently under contract to be serviced on a regular basis and the main elevator located in the Math Wing is scheduled to be replaced very soon. On the basis of school grounds, they have allocated over $46,000 for prairie dog removal and are working with a business to take care of the issue the best they can for the time being.

Many members of the District Staff and Board showed their eagerness as they explained how old the Rock Springs High School is, and that they are in desperate need of a new one. Although the General Session for the Wyoming Legislature just ended, they urged the community to talk to our Representatives and Senators about their concerns regarding Rock Springs High School and the age of the building. Representative Clark Stith was in attendance and noted that the Legislature’s budget is done on a two-year basis. At this time the School Capital Construction Budget for maintenance and construction currently resides at $377 million dollars. From there, $248 million was appropriated, $158 million was placed for maintenance, and $90 million was reserved for new school construction. Representative Stith noted that over the past month, Legislation has added another $129 million to the School Capital Construction Budget, of which $100 million is for new schools and $29 million for maintenance.

On the basis of WYTOPP testing and the teachers’ curriculum, Jodie Garner, Curriculum Director explained that parents are able to go to the Wyoming Department of Education and take a version of the test. Johnson quickly jumped in to explain that while the parents are able to take the test themselves, the rigor of the test is much less compared to the one the students are actually taking. Johnson also explained that the curriculum the teachers are using at this time does not prepare the students for the rigor of the WYTOPP test. Garner explained that the curriculum they are currently using has not been changed from the prior test the students were taking and that she appreciated the feedback she was receiving regarding the current curriculum.

In terms of standard-based grading, Nicole Bolton, Human Resource Director/Assistant Superintendent explained that the company “Don’t Ever Stop” was brought in as mentors for the administration to implement student-centered learning. Bolton stated, “All standard-based grading truly is, is making sure that the grade is reflecting the standard and the proficiency that a kiddo is getting”. Garner elaborated on this as she explained that they did not modify the curriculum maps for about seven years. With that in mind, they noticed that they need to prioritize standards and make sure the WYTOPP blueprint was being matched with the curriculum maps. Garner explained that every year, the curriculum maps will be changed to match the testing results.

At the end of the forum, the Board and Staff urged the community to reach out to them with any questions and concerns they have. The Staff Directory can be found here.