New superintendent moves resources from administration to struggling schools | VailDaily.com

New superintendent moves resources from administration to struggling schools

If the school district reaches all its goals, students should meet these criteria.

EAGLE — The first time school superintendent Dr. Carlos Ramirez addressed a roomful of local teachers they actually applauded the boss.

Ramirez started in July, arriving about the same time as Eagle County Schools' state standardized test scores.

Ramirez told the teachers he was going leave two central office administration jobs unfilled, and move that money to the schools that need the most help. Applause ensued.

The district's special education coordinator and curriculum director positions are vacant and will stay that way.

Ramirez said the $172,000 in those salaries would be better spent in a few school buildings.

"Exact costs have not been determined, exact supports by schools have not been finalized and we are not under any pressure by the board to offset new operational costs with savings elsewhere. It's just a matter of course that we carefully consider how we will pay for necessary but unanticipated needs," Dan Dougherty, the school district's chief communications officer said in an email.

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When results from state-mandated standardized testing were released last month, a couple of the district's schools were downgraded as needing improvement.

The money from the vacant administrative positions is being set aside to help those schools and others raise those scores, Ramirez told the school board.

The money will pay for:

• Coaching and support for the schools that must improve,

• A data dashboard system to curate data from the district's myriad sources, converting it into something teachers can actually use,

• A math audit that analyzes how math instruction is done, and how to improve it. For example, when last spring's state testing data was finally analyzed, local math scores dropped by 3.9 percent in achievement and 6.9 percent in growth.

We're paying more attention to local schools, and generally we like what we see.

Magellan Strategies, a Boulder-based research company, surveyed 564 Eagle County residents and another 401 parents in late June through early July.

Among their findings:

• 55 percent says the school district is on the right track, while 17 percent say they're going in the wrong direction.

• The wrong track people point to the dual-language programs, indoctrination and teaching toward standardized testing.

• Republican men gave local schools the highest grades.

• Republicans also expressed the highest support for bilingual education.

• 65 percent of respondents say the school district is wisely spending tax money. That's 6 percent higher than last year.

• 70 percent of Avon residents give Avon Elementary School a grade of A or B.

• 69 percent of Gypsum residents give Gypsum Elementary and Red Hill Elementary an A or B.

The surveyed targeted likely voters, and that's why around 80 percent of the respondents were white, David Flaherty, of Magellan Strategies, said.

More than half of Eagle County's public school students are Hispanic, and while voter registration is increasing among Hispanics, the data finds that as a demographic group they're not voting in larger numbers, Flaherty said.

People will pay attention who want to. If they don't want to, they probably won't, Flaherty told the school board when he presented the data.

Still, the number of those who claim to not be informed at all dropped 9 percent from last year, Flaherty said.

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