Our Recent Progress: 2017-18 in Review

2017-18 was a great year in the Lake County School District! Our schools’ academic performance was strong, our arts programs continued to thrive, and we received numerous grants. We also received state and national attention for our work. Below are links to some of the exciting coverage we received this year. You can also find our Year in Review column.

Chalkbeat Article: How a Colorado school district turned things around at 10,000 feet above sea level

Stories of Promising Practice – Quality Schools – Lake County School District from Colorado Department of Education on Vimeo.

2018 Healthy Schools Champion Gold Award announcement

The LCSD team receives the Healthy Schools Champions gold award. Far right: Education Commissioner Katy Anthes

Our Year in Review

It’s time for our annual year-end reflection, in which we typically share our perception of progress and accomplishments in the Lake County School District. And what a year it was! A mere 12 months ago, in June 2017, we wrote about the fact that the next milestone in our school reform efforts was for our schools to become rated as “performing” on state assessments. Little did we know at the time that we would reach that milestone in August 2017, when Lake County Intermediate School, Lake County High School and the district as a whole received this rating and were officially “green” for their performance on PARCC and other assessments. This was a critical watershed in our efforts. Though we still have lots of work to do in our schools, to see the hard work of both adults and students paying off in such a tangible way was rewarding and validating.

We also received state and national attention this year for our turnaround efforts. We received a $900,000 three-year grant from the James Walton Fund and the Gates Family Foundation to refine, document and share our work. Our district won a $5,000 gold-level Healthy School Champions award for our work on health and wellness. We were featured in an article on the national education news site Chalkbeat. The focus of the story was the ways in which we have bucked the trend of typical school turnaround and created our own more strengths-based version. Instead of blaming and replacing educators and school leaders, we have proven that investing and believing in them instead is the right path for Lake County. Our people are the key to success for our students, plain and simple, and from teachers to bus drivers and custodians we could not do it without them. Finally, the Colorado Department of Education just released a video in its “Promising Practices” series that highlights turnaround in LCSD and the work we have done as a community and a district to improve our schools. You can read the Chalkbeat article and watch the video by visiting www.lakecountyschools.net/ourprogress.

It was also a good year for LCSD in securing new grants to help meet our goals and expand our work. We received a four-year grant $500,000 to focus on improving attendance and to continue our work on restorative justice. And we received a new three- to five-year 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant that will supply $371,000 over the first three years to support after-school programming at West Park. In addition to these new grants, several large grants—like West Park’s Tiered Intervention Grant and the district’s partnership with Get Outdoors Leadville!—will continue in 2018-19.

It’s tempting to conclude from all of this good news that we are “done” improving our schools. Far from it. We see many places where our renewed and ongoing efforts are required to sustain progress, and it is possible if not likely that our improvement will have a “two steps forward, one step back” quality to it over the next few years. In 2018-19 we will be focusing on a number of priorities that are aligned to our district goals, including supporting a new principal at LCIS; improving student attendance; expanding parent engagement opportunities; and continuing our drive to ensure that students are meeting the rigorous requirements of the Colorado state academic standards across all schools and subject areas. We will also be working closely with the community on shaping our facilities master plan, which will guide our capital planning for the next 5-10 years.

Far from resting on our laurels, we are leaning in. We are incredibly optimistic about what lies ahead for LCSD. We have amazing leaders, fantastic teachers and dedicated staff. Our students and families are incredible and we are honored to work with and for them. And we are a part of the best and most unique community we could imagine. We invite you to continue to follow our journey, to be critical friends who ask us the hard questions, and to lend support to your local schools as we write the next chapter together.