School Views: Getting back to it
As the first day of school approaches, I am filled with excitement. The 2023-24 school year will be my fifth as Eagle County School District’s superintendent and my 25th overall in education. Most of those years were spent right here in Eagle County beginning as a teacher. During my tenure, we have seen ups and downs, as is always the case, but our community has persevered.
Our Board of Education and the Eagle County community at large have held us to a high standard that we continue to strive for. We know our latest CMAS scores reveal some successes and a few areas of academic deficiency. We continue to support our students in recovering from the learning loss created by the pandemic years.
Eagle County School District maintains a focus on creating global-ready graduates and growing our students to have creative minds, compassion for others, and an enthusiasm for learning. We aim for an environment of belonging and engagement because reaching our children’s hearts always precedes reaching their minds, and it creates life-long relationships that reverberate throughout our close knit valley and beyond.
This past year, we’ve made terrific strides in housing. Our new Miller Flats complex in Edwards will see some of its units move-in ready in the next couple of months. Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley broke ground on its Third Street Housing Project adjacent to Eagle Valley Middle School, which will be home to 16 units of which 12 are earmarked for Eagle County School District staff. We have also increased our rental inventory exponentially through master leases and other communications connecting potential landlords to our employees.
It doesn’t mean the valley’s housing crisis is over, but we feel we have a recipe moving forward so we can continue to make gains over time.
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Last election, our state voted in favor of Healthy School Meals for All. This means that every student in the district will now receive free breakfast and lunch every school day. This is a huge win for all of Colorado.
I am a firm believer that full bellies lead to happy hearts, and happy hearts lead to interested minds. We still encourage anyone who would qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch to apply. This helps maximize district funding and those that qualify can reduce or remove athletic and student fees. Contact your school’s office staff or visit eagleschools.net/lunch for more information and to submit your application.
This fall we encourage you to read your ballots thoughtfully, educate yourself on topics and candidates, and get out and vote in all of your local elections. Our Board of Education steers the direction of our school district and there are four seats open in the November election. These are volunteer positions and the people who take on these roles make hard decisions while listening to community feedback both positive and negative. If you’re interested in running or would like to get additional information about the board, review agendas, or watch previous meetings we encourage you to visit EagleSchools.net/boe.
In the months to come, I will address various topics surrounding the district such as student achievement, school funding, and staff compensation. We strive to attract and retain the best educators we can, but our state’s funding model is broken. I encourage our community to learn the ins and outs of how the education system works and help us to do what’s best for our students and staff members. This is what makes election season so important.
While I look forward to many of the things that are just around the corner, such as the start of football season, the aspen leaves turning and covering our valley in gold, and the first snowflakes of the season, it’s the smiles on the faces of our students on that first day of school for which I am most eager.
Whether you’re dropping your kindergartner off for their first day of school with tears in your eyes, your senior slips out the door to drive themself to school, or your morning routine is somewhere in between, rest assured we are excited to help them continue their educational journey. Our educators are committed to providing a caring environment and teaching your students the necessary skills to be successful on whatever path they choose. Here’s to a great 2023-24 school year with Eagle County School District.
Philip Qualman is the superintendent of Eagle County School District. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.