Crestone Charter School
School Improvement Planning Process
Year End Review 2006-2007
The 2006-2007 school year at Crestone Charter School featured many outstanding achievements and a variety of challenges related to growth and change.
- CCS began the year with a fiscal deficit that required creative collaboration between administration, staff, governing council and district personnel. The current budget was reduced, primarily in administrative costs, while maintaining student programming. Long-range planning for developing reserve savings has been undertaken and built into next year’s budget. We estimate that by June 2008 we will have eliminated the deficit of the past entirely and have accounted fully for end-of-the-year accrual spending.
- Another challenge, though more exciting and easier to manage, was a 30% increase in student enrollment this school year. This called for adjustments in how we handled school-wide events, transportation, use of computers, standardized testing, and shared spaces.
- And though we find our rural setting to be one of our greatest strengths, this year this produced a number of challenges in terms of networking meaningful support for special needs students who fall outside of traditional versions of special ed support. In fact one of our goals on our new SIPPS plan is to develop a comprehensive plan of support for special-needs students, what are the services available valley-wide for special needs students and families, how do we connect families with these, and how are these services funded.
- This year CCS educational program was spotlighted with state awards for academic achievement.
- The LINK program was named one of the Colorado’s top 3 senior high schools of Academic Achievement with a rating of “Excellent” on the 2005-2006 SARS report and showing “Stable” academic growth.
- Middle School Grades 6-8 earning a “High” rating for academic assessments on the 05-06 SARS report and showing “Improvement” of academic growth of students
- Elementary students met “Average” state standards for academic assessment on SARS report and showed “Significant Improvement” in student academic growth.
- CCS teachers earned honors for their professional accomplishments:
- LINK head teacher, Karen Acker, was awarded for her teaching and participation in the Charter School movement with the “Friends of Charter Schools” award by the Colorado League of Charter Schools in Denver in October 2006.
- Middle School instructor and master teacher, Dr. Charlie Warren, received the AmGen award for Science Teaching excellence along with a $10,000 stipend, half to himself and half to be allocated to the CCS outdoor education program at the ROCK (regional outdoor center for knowledge.)
- CCS expeditionary program reached new heights with the LINK program earning over $20,000 locally to fund their trip to India. Students studied the cultural, political, economic and spiritual history of the country throughout the year, then earned the ultimate lab experience by traveling for 19 days through India. Students held a gallery-style dessert-tea displaying their photography and journal entries for the Crestone/Baca community following their return.
- As part of water studies this year, Middle School students gathered samples along our local watershed on hikes up (and down) North Crestone, Cottonwood and Spanish Creek. Their results found that we have a pretty clean water supply in Crestone/Baca. Building on the water theme, they took a spring trip that began at the headwaters of the Arkansas river and followed the river to the Mississippi, down the Gulf of Mexico. They took water samples every 100 miles. In Slidell, Louisiana the group spent a day with our sister school students of Brock Elementary, who have been displaced since hurricane Katrina.
- Anrahyah Arstad took on the pioneering effort of creating a new classroom at CCS this year. The Intermediate class serves students ages 9-12 (approximately) who are learning at the 4th-6th grade level by CSAP measures. Anrahyah’s students have also closely pursued the theme of “sense of place” creating a “Kid’s guide to the San Luis Valley” collected through research at home and in the field. Intermediate students traveled to Moffat, Saguache, Villa Grove, Alamosa, La Veta, Del Norte, Rio Grande and Penitiente Canyon collecting data and exploring their environment. They compiled their “Kids’ Guide” and submitted it to the online encyclopedia “Wikipedia”.
- Primary students, under the instruction and guidance of Jen Dopierala and teaching assistant, Lori Wade, invested in biological and cultural studies this year along with the support of school-wide science instructor, Thomas Cleary. Birds of Prey and Native American History were two areas of intensive focus. The group traveled to Taos Pueblo and Tierra Wools to experience Native American culture in experiential setting.
- Early Elementary students moved into a new class this year! Because of the shifting of class sizes and configurations, it was necessary for teacher, Susan Fey, to move from her long-held class space next to CCS administrative offices, into the rear modular. Susan spent the summer painting and preparing the space. Carpeting replaced the broken tiles, two windows were added to the adjoining windowless multi-purpose space, and bathroom sinks were scaled down to make them suitable for younger students. The campus stove was also installed here. During the fall Susan and her students prepared a “stone soup” every Thursday for lunch, using the ingredients that are brought in by students or their families. Early Elementary students had no problem filing up their new, larger class space with energy and good work all year long. When not in the classroom they were in the field, taking swim lessons at Hooper pool, visiting the cranes in Monte Vista, and for their end-of-the-year trip they went to Denver to the Museum of Natural History where they were able to see dinosaur exhibits they had studied in earth science during the school year.
- The CCS mentorship program serviced students with nearly 40 different electives options, tailored to students’ passions, and then showcased student work in Winter and Spring show and tell, as well as a student-hosted “Thank you” tea at the Willow Springs Bed and Breakfast where students shared appreciations with their mentor-guests.
- In addition to facilitating the LINK mentorship program, Mary Dodge also served as reading mentor to CCS elementary students requiring reading remediation. Mary serves 16 students weekly in private tutorials. Various methodologies including the Sopris west Language Program, Linda Mood-Bell, and Spellography employed to support students with learning differences. Mary tests all students campus wide for reading assessments each fall using the Gray Oral Reading Test IV and the Slossen Oral reading test. These same instruments are again applied in the spring to give a comprehensive overview of student reading skills and areas of concern and improvement.
2006-2007 SIPPS Goals We Have Met
- Completed Director search and hiring process
- Completed transition standards for all curricular and Ends policies
- Purchased five 12-passenger vans for the School through a grant from Mr. and Mrs. Norman E. McCulloch, Jr., Gayatri McCulloch, and the Trustees of the McAdams Charitable Foundation.
- Clarified use of the Multi-Purpose room in the old modular, scheduling Early Elementary kinesthetic activites, reading tutorials, a variety of mentorships, Special Ed meetings and student testing.
- Became engaged in the new school development process. Beginning in January 2007, The Land Search and New Facility Committee met monthly. We have begun the development of a business plan, made initial inquiries into availability of local land, attended a grant workshop on Capital Construction monies, met with a feasibility-research expert and a design specialist working with straw bale school construction. The committee includes outreach with Crestone Music Performances as well as the Town of Crestone.
- Reviewed and addressed science safety issues at LINK. This year’s Health Inspection resulted in a clean bill of health plus a special acknowledgement to Thomas Cleary for the extensive accommodations and improvements he made including:
·Inventoring, Categorizing and storing chemicals properly
·Creating and posting policies and procedures for chemical spills
·Posting warning signs for chemical storage and EMR contact numbers
- Worked with District to improve special education services, including increased student contact hours and staffings and on-site testing. Experienced our first-ever on-site services from Boces specialists, including Physical, Occupational and Speech therapists.
- Expanded instrumental lessons to the Early Elementary program
- Developed process for sending students to Center SEID program
- Purchased portable basketball goals so that interested students got more practice at school
- Continued to improve collaborative relationship with Moffat by having CCS students participate in intramural sports and dances. CCS and Moffat staff also worked through the Collaboration Committee to create a brochure that celebrates the differences of both programs and encourages choice within our small community.
- Two Parent Orientation sessions were held in the fall to review the school’s Ends Policies and detail parent volunteer opportunities. Other parent outreach opportunities included our back-to-school barbeque, winter and spring Show and Tell programs, and weekly classroom reports and emailings.
- Our school blog was widely used with postings from each class as well as many visits from our community and beyond, particularly during student travel.
- We continued to develop options for Foreign Language studies this year with our goal being to bring LINK into state compliance beginning in 2007 with a combination of online options and in-person immersion experiences. Early Elementary and Primary classes conduct immersion Spanish lessons weekly. Latin studies were undertaken by Middle School students.
- Based on a comparative salary scale review of Valley schools CCS teacher pay is above average for the Valley and high for the northern Valley.
- To increase teacher planning time for curriculum develop we will pay a stipend for teachers next year to participate in this professional development project.
- NWEA testing was reviewed in faculty meeting and staff has agreed to continue using the program for bi-yearly assessment on a year-by-year basis.
These Goals Continue to Be Works-in-Progress
- The spiral-curriculum process and planning time for teachers to participate in this process has begun with the development of the Science Spiral Curriculum. The amount of time required in this process is extensive and I see this map being created over the course of our new 3-year SIPPS process.
- Advanced training in Twice Exceptional was the specific interest of former teacher Alana Barnes. No other teachers have interest in pursuing this training and so we have not completed this goal.
- There was talk of developing a plan for “embedding music” within the curriculum. No such plan has taken shape, though we continue to offer guitar and piano lessons campus wide through a combination of mentorships and tutorials for interested students. Primary class has embedded music in their curriculum by the use of songs related to current study themes.
- In 2005-2006 CCS won an Arts Alliance award. A SIPPS goal to continue to develop opportunities for art display and ways to raise the standard for art products was listed as a goal for this year. Though we have had students display art at Adams State competition and we have had students participate in and win poster competitions for the Center Water Conservation District and US EPA Region 8, this goal speaks more specifically to fine arts standards and venues. Next year we will strengthen fine arts for Elementary students and create visiting artist programs to dovetail with on-going class studies.
- A comprehensive reworking of our website will begin this summer. Our goal is to use the website as an interactive tool for students and parents to communicate about the activities and learning programs happening weekly in each classroom as well as another arm of accountability, documenting and updating the body of work that evolves around each Ends Policy yearly.
- Schedule session with staff and Governing Council to complete joint review of Technology policies and potential for creating an ENDS to serve this goal.