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August 18, 2014
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Eagle County Schools back in session this week

EAGLE COUNTY — There’s nothing like Opening Day, especially if you’re in the education industry.

Thousands of local kids bid adieu to summer this week and head back to class as schools open all over Eagle County.

“This is one of the most exciting times for teachers, principals, bus drivers and all support staff! We’re excited to welcome students back,” said Jason Glass, superintendent of Eagle County Schools.

Battle Mountain High School freshmen were the first back in class, reporting Monday for freshman orientation. Eagle Valley High School’s freshmen are back in class this morning for their orientation.

The middle and elementary schools filter in throughout the rest of this week for testing and classes.

On freshman orientation days, the ninth-graders have the run of the place; no upperclassmen are there, except for upperclassmen who help them find their way around on the freshmen’s first day of high school.

When they’re all in their seats, feet flat on the floor, sitting up straight and attentive, there will be somewhere around 7,000 little blessings from above in school. The public schools will be home to most of those, 6,378.7 kids.

‘HOLY CRAP! I’M A NEW TEACHER’

Dozens of students will be new, and so will several teachers. Of the school district’s 423 teachers, 71 teachers and eight specialists are new.

Teachers both seasoned and rookies went through their own two-day orientation last week, an educator academy called EdCamp.

It’s designed to empower front-line educators, said Anne Heckman, the school district’s director of educator quality.

“The people closest to the kids are the ones who should make the instructional decision about what’s right for them,” Heckman said. “If you have to wait for a district mandate or the Department of Education, you’re missing opportunities.”

Teachers spent part of the first day with experts in their fields. The second day was workshops with other teachers.

The teachers decided the 44 workshop topics.

One of them is “Holy Crap! I’m a New Teacher,” survival training for new teachers who really, really, really wanted to be teachers more than anything else on God’s green earth and are in a blind panic after reaching their dream.

There’s one called “To Homework or Not to Homework. That is the Question,” which every student can immediately answer.

“I see teaching as a noble profession for many reasons, but it starts with really caring about students, parents, and the community and that’s never more visible than the first week of school. We’re all going to have a great, fun year of learning,” Glass said.

ABOUT THAT Seven-tenths of a kid

The public schools are projected to have 6,378.7 kids.

If you’re the Colorado Department of Education you calculate partial kids by the funding formula. Their formula begins with the base per-pupil funding, $7,288.11 per kid attending public schools. They pay 50 percent of that for a kindergarten student and 80 percent for a preschooler.

Local schools will get about $350,000 more this year than last. The school board decided to use the money to reduce student to teacher ratios from 17:1 to 16.5:1 at secondary levels and 16:1 to 15.5:1 at elementary levels.

Across Colorado, student enrollment numbers are expected to grow for 24th straight year, up by 13,438 over last for a total of 876,999 kindergarten through 12th grade public school students.

That’s up 1.6 percent, slightly higher than the growth rate in the 2012-13 school year, which was 1.1 percent. In 2008-09, enrollment surged 2 percent, the largest increase in the past 10 years.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Aug 18, 2014 08:40PM Published Aug 19, 2014 07:43PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.