October 17, 2013



JEFFERSON

Greene County school board members approved a potential realignment plan to consolidate grades at last Wednesday night's meeting in Jefferson.

The plan was required because of district schools' placement on the school in need of assistance list. Schools are placed on the SINA list when they miss federal reading or math benchmarks for two or more years in a row. One responsibility of the schools on the list is to write a plan to address education in weak testing areas.

Though the board is not yet required to carry out the restructuring plan, board members indicated that they would implement it sometime in the near future.

School board member Dr. Mark Peters said that it "made sense" to have the classes in one place to better coordinate curriculum and teacher cooperation within grade levels.

School board president Sam Harding agreed, indicating that a consolidation among grades would also lead to uniform class sizes within the district because all of the students of the same age would be in the same building.

"For me, it's a no brainer, we need to just do it and move forward, whether the federal government needs this form or not," he said.

According to the plan, prekindergarten through third-grade students would all attend school in Jefferson while fourth- through sixth-graders would attend school in Grand Junction.

Harding said that East Greene parents would be upset about having to bus their children and Jefferson parents would be mad about adding a grade in the building, but that was "just the way it is."

The board will also pursue other responses to intervention to address the "lack of common, rigorous expectations of students," said superintendent Tim Christensen. Christensen added that consolidating the grade levels would make additional initiatives easier to implement.

The board also discussed prioritizing projects for the use of the physical plant and equipment levy funds, including potential to bond against the levy income in order to complete more projects now at a lower interest rate. Estimated to generate $600,000 per year, the maximum amount available to the district is about $6 million. Discussions will continue at the next board meeting.