By: Suzie Glassman/NewsBreak Denver
(Castle Rock, CO) Douglas County school district leaders are shifting their focus from their failed bid to get more money from the district's taxpayers toward setting the educational priorities for its 64,000 students and 8,500 employees.
During this week's board meeting, the DougCo school board members will discuss and possibly approve their legislative priorities for the coming term. These priorities become the basis of discussion with lawmakers as they work to pass education legislation in the House and Senate.
Local control and school choice
During last month's board meeting, Board President Mike Peterson re-emphasized that local boards govern public schools in Colorado, meaning school boards are the ones to set the curriculum and decide how to implement the community's priorities.
The board agreed that school choice is a cornerstone of the district's values and that parents should have the option to decide which school is best for their students.
Peterson said he supports any legislation that "respects and supports parents' values and beliefs" and that parents have the right to make decisions concerning their children's education and upbringing per their customs, faith, family, and culture."
Directors Elizabeth Hanson and David Ray agreed but also noted that parents and educators work together in a partnership, and no one side has more value.
School safety and vouchers
Peterson made it clear that he supports any legislation that supports partnerships between local law enforcement and community schools and that promoting a safe school environment isn't just about gun violence but all matters of student safety.
He and the rest of the board reiterated that DougCo supports prohibiting possessing firearms, dangerous weapons, and ammunition on school grounds unless the person is a trained security officer and has permission from the superintendent.
The board also unanimously opposes using vouchers, education savings accounts, or tax credits to divert public money to private schools in the county.
Addressing the teacher shortage
Hanson suggested including something that, given the national teacher shortage, "highlights the challenges we are facing and somehow tie it neatly into the state having high expectations for performance."
The board added that the district supports local school boards' flexibility to place the best teacher in every classroom, including providing alternate pathways to earning a teacher's license.