Charter school board approves communications policy, improvement plan

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    By Randi Pierce

    Staff Writer

    At its regular meeting Monday evening, the Pagosa Peak Open School Board of Directors considered and approved a board communications policy.

    The policy considered at the meeting was a second draft.

    The communications policy approved Monday, according to the resolution, is “to ensure effective and open communication between the Pagosa Peak Open School Board of Directors and the school’s staff, parents, stakeholders, and the public” and acknowledges that it is “inevitable that Board members will have interactions with parents, staff and community members, and may wish to discuss specific operational issues.”

    It further states, “the Board is ultimately responsible for providing adequate and direct means for keeping the local citizenry informed about the school. and [sic] for keeping itself informed about the wishes of the public,” and that the board “seeks to establish communication practices that allow the dissemination of full and accurate information about Pagosa Peak Open School, both favorable and unfavorable, while respecting the reputations and feelings of staff, parents, and volunteers connected with the school.”

    Before delving into the policy, the document further outlines, “Board members will inevitably hold a range of opinions about school policies, operations and programs, while embracing the school’s Mission and Vision and Charter Application.”

    The policy resolution then outlines seven guidelines regarding communications by the board:

    • “Except for the Board President and the School Director, Board members wishing to make formal presentations on behalf of PPOS will first obtain permission from the Board. This includes presentations at formal events, and formal interviews with the media;”

    • “The Board will ensure that PPOS maintains an informative website, and that an Annual Report is made available shortly after the conclusion of each school year;”

    • “During informal communications with members of the school or community about PPOS issues, Board members will clearly state that their communications do not necessarily represent the opinions or positions of the full Board. This also applies to social media postings;”

    • “Communication between the Board and staff will be carried out with recognition of the distinct reporting relationship between the Board and the School Director as its only employee;”

    • “When a Board member serves on a school committee, and is not serving as committee chair, the Board member will defer to the chair’s leadership in terms of communications issues;”

    • “During staff presentations at Board meetings, Board members will keep questions and comments about the presentation focused on the presentation content;” and

    • “In instances where the issues are high profile or contentious, the Board President and School Director will ensure that Board members receive key messages at an appropriate time via email or other communication channels.”

    The policy was approved with little discussion, though board president Ursala Hudson noted she was “surprised at how drastically different” the draft policy was from the previous time it was discussed.

    “This policy is better than no policy,” she said.

    Following a motion from Bill Hudson and a second by Gary Hedgecock, the five members of the board present (Mark Weiler was absent) voted in favor of the policy.

    In other business at the meeting, the PPOS board also approved a final draft of its unified improvement plan (UIP) with the inclusion of a section on reading.

    According to the Colorado Department of Education website, “Unified Improvement Planning was introduced in 2009 to streamline improvement planning components of state and federal accountability requirements. Based on the Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids (SB212-08), the primary purpose of improvement planning is to align efforts to: Ensure all students exit the K-12 education system ready for post-secondary education, and/or to be successful in the workforce, earning a living wage immediately upon graduation.”

    It further explains, “Colorado schools and districts can improve student learning and system effectiveness by engaging in a cycle of continuous improvement to manage their performance. To support this purpose, the Education Accountability Act of 2009 requires each Colorado district and school to create an annual improvement plan.

    “The intent is that schools and districts create a single plan that has true meaning for stakeholders, ultimately reducing the total number of separate plans required.”

    For more information on UIPs, visit: https://www.cde.state.co.us/uip.

    The board also held an executive session to discuss a student and a grievance letter Ursala Hudson indicated was recently received.

    Following that executive session, the board voted to draft a formal letter responding, with a special meeting tentatively set for noon on April 22 to consider approval of that letter.

    randi@pagosasun.com