ADAMS COUNTY, Colo — The Colorado State Board of Education on Thursday asked Adams 14 school district to come back to the board with more details on its proposal to hire a partial manager.
At the Thursday meeting, the board held several hours of discussion about what to do with the district after it fired a consulting firm it was ordered to work with.
Adams 14 has been struggling with its accreditation rating since 2010, and was ordered to work with an outside manager to turn student performance around.
In January, the school district fired that consulting company, MGT. The district said there was a "pattern of misconduct" by MGT, which resulted in their firing. The district also claimed MGT was making decisions without the school board's approval.
Thursday, the board heard from the school district as well as an independent review board on recommendations on how to move forward. The review board completed a report on the status of student learning in the district.
The report said district enrollment numbers have dropped every single year for the last five years, and a high percentage of students were not meeting expectations on testing.
The district argued the numbers were skewed and academic growth data shows the district is moving in a positive direction. They also said the state board was discriminatory during their reporting process, showed up late to meetings with Spanish-speaking parents and did not provide translators to a predominantly Hispanic district.
The commissioner of education and the district acknowledged there has been a rift between the district parents and the school board.
“I want you to know that I hear you and I’m sorry for our words and actions that made you feel less than or undeserving. We actually feel the opposite, and that is one of the reasons why we have such a laser-like focus on exploring options to get students what they need,” Commissioner of Education Dr. Katy Anthes said.
“We wish to look directly at the narrative that was just presented by colleagues from the state board and ensure that the community hears the full picture of what it means and the implications as you all consider this important decision,” Dr. Robert Lundin with Adams 14 said.
The school district suggested they work with a different management company. They said they hope to have the relationship be more of a partnership rather than having someone oversee the district and make their decisions.
The board on Thursday asked the district to come back with a detailed plan that outlines the responsibilities of that yet-to-be-named external partner. The board also requested a specific plan for Adams City High School, as well as a detailed innovation plan for Central Elementary.
The board asked the district to present the management plan at the next board meeting, which is May 11-12. The innovation plan is due to the department by June.
"It is aggressive, but we are up to the task. We will deliver," Adams 14 Superintendent Dr. Karla Loria said.
"We will engage the community," Loria said. "After the presentation, actually, I already connected with community members. We're meeting on Tuesday. I'm sending emails. We are up to the challenge. We will deliver. It is aggressive, but it is doable. We'll make it work."
The department said the board’s actions are the result of Adams 14 having more than a decade of low academic performance. Under the state’s Education Accountability Act, the board is required to direct action to schools and districts that remain on the Accountability Clock for five years in a row, the department said. The law says these actions may include:
- granting innovation status
- requiring a district or school to work with an external manager
- converting a school to a charter school
- closing a school
- initiating a district reorganization process
Accountability ratings have not been calculated since 2019 due to the pandemic, but the department said Adams 14 had been on the Accountability Clock since 2010.
"The state Board of Education demonstrated a genuine interest in hearing from us. We haven't had this opportunity the entire year, [except] 10 minutes we were in front of them in September," Loria said.
"And today they demonstrated a genuine interest in getting to know us, getting to hear from us, and they allowed us to tell our own story," she said.
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