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2015 PSD Board Election Questionnaire

As PSD has grown, we have seen school of choice has become limited at many sites.
How do you preserve that choice in a climate thats made it difficult to support it?
- Weve heard from some parents the district doesnt advertise the limited
availability well enough; theres not actually choice.
PSD follows its school of choice policy and, I believe, has done a better job of managing choice
over the past couple of years. PSDs choice policy outlines 8 different priority levels which
describe which students are eligible to fill vacant seats in a schools first. These are the priority
levels (1 being highest and 8 lowest):

1. Students who reside within the attendance area of the neighborhood school they
wish to attend.
2. Students currently enrolled in the school and students who wish to continue
attending a District program that spans different grade levels and schools.
3. New student applicants who reside within the District who are siblings of a
student that is currently enrolled in the school and will be attending at the same
time as the applicant, and who live at the same residence as the currently
enrolled student.
4. New student applicants who reside within the District and whose parent/guardian
is employed at the school.
5. New student applicants who reside within the District and are not siblings of a
currently enrolled student living at the same residence or the child of a school
6. New student applicants who reside outside of the District who are siblings of a
student that is currently enrolled in the school and will be attending at the same
time as the applicant, and who live at the same residence as the currently
enrolled student.
7. New student applicants who reside outside of the District and whose
parent/guardian is employed at the school.
8. New student applicants who reside outside of the District and are not siblings of a
currently enrolled student living at the same residence or the child of a school
Available seats at a school are filled by the level of each priority each student has, with priority 1
students always having the right to attend their neighborhood school (unless they have chosen
to attend another school for the year).

With the increasing enrollment numbers at PSD schools, the choice policy must be followed to
prevent overcrowding at some school sites. Fortunately, all PSD schools are good schools, so if
a person does not get into the school of their choice, they always have a good neighborhood
school to attend.
As a school board member, if someone contacts me about school of choice, I make sure they
understand the choice policy, and, if the parent is interested, I send them a copy of the current
school capacity and enrollment numbers so they can make informed decisions about where
they might want to apply. While I often provide this information which is also publically
available, these numbers are moving targets as kids move in and out of neighborhoods and as
choice students decide whether to remain at their current schools. There are many factors
involved and there are no guarantees that spots will be available in any particular school in a
given year.
I would assume that parents who are interested enough to choose an alternate school for their
child, would also take the time to visit the school or at least speak with the office staff and/or
principal to attempt to determine how full the school is likely to be prior to submitting a school of
choice application.
Additionally, the district does produce brochures for elementary, middle, and high schools to
help explain to parents what their options are.
Kindergarten (Elementary School ) Brochure
Middle/High School Brochure

The district has a long-term plan to deal with growth in the district. However, new
schools are years away. How do you deal with that growth today? Modular units? Later
start times?
The first thing we do has to be to manage choice using the districts school of choice policy. We
want to keep our schools from being overcrowded, where possible. School capacities are limited
by more than just the number of classrooms in a building. The common use facilities in a school
such as cafeterias, gyms, parking, hallways, and outdoor space have limits to their capacities
The next line of defense is adding modular units. Modulars are fine to press into use as a
temporary solution; however, as mentioned above, they do not address the general
overcrowding issues in a school. Also, modular units are expensive and the cost of moving
these units from site to site is high. This is why modular are only being added to sites where it
is necessary due to serve students living with the neighborhood boundaries of a school and for
those students already attending the school.
The school district will soon put a bond to the general public to pay for construction of
several new schools and needs at others existing. Does it go far enough? How will you
sell the hundreds of millions of dollars to those who dont have kids in the system?
PSDs Board of Education will determine during or after March of 2016 whether or not to put a
bond issue on the 2016 ballot to pay for new schools and continue addressing the needs of our
other aging buildings.

Due to our rapidly increasing number of students in PSD, it is likely that the district will need to
go for another bond not too many years after the 2016 bond election. So the answer to Does it
go far enough? is, it goes far enough for now. The school district is only permitted a certain
amount of bonding capacity, and this, in combination with being careful not to overestimate the
size of property tax increases our voters will tolerate, limit what PSD is able to ask for.
And heres how we will sell the bond to the approximately 70% of voters that dont have
students in the system:
Seniors: I find it interesting that seniors are actually the part of our population that is most likely
to (1) vote, and (2) vote in favor of funding schools. The wisdom of seniors in understanding the
value of education to a community is unparalleled. Seniors may also vote to fund new schools
because they have grandchildren in our schools.
Parents: Will likely vote for the bond because the details the districts Plan B of how the
district will accommodate growth if we are unable to pass a bond are likely to be compelling.
And parents generally want whats best for their kids.
Business Community: It is clear that having a school district with excellent schools helps a
community to stay vibrant and strong economically. People want to live in communities with
good schools.
Our Superintendent has been going around the community giving presentations on the Long
Range Plan to a wide variety of groups in our community. I have attended nearly all of these
presentations. As I listen for feedback and input from members of our community, I hear that
they get it. If were going to have more kids in the community, we need more schools to
accommodate them. Even as we explain the unpleasant reality that construction costs have
doubled in the past five years, people seem to understand the need.
Whats the top priority/goal for you as you consider taking a seat on PSDs school board
in the 4-year term to come?
I believe our board needs to continue our advocacy efforts at both the state and national levels
to ensure the passage of good legislation, which will create the best possible learning
environment for the students in our schools. Much legislation is passed by well-meaning
legislators who often do not understand the unintended consequences and the unfunded
mandates they create for school districts. It is our job as school board members to continually
engage with legislators and explain our needs.
Additional priorities include continuing board engagement sessions with our community. It is our
job as school board members to reflect the values of our community. I take that part of the job
The board also needs to oversee the implementation of the District Ends (discussed in the
answer to your next question) and to work hard to accommodate our rapidly increasing student
What does student success look like to you at the conclusion of a students senior year
in high school?

In the spring of Dr. Smysers first year as PSDs superintendent, our board, superintendent, and
cabinet worked together to define new District Ends or what are the boards goals for
students. We held many community engagement sessions, and talked with parents, community
members, students, teachers, classified staff, and administrators. We were able to discern
themes in these conversations about what our community wants to see out of our students. We
call these Ends as this the result of we are looking for in those we serve, our students. Here
are the District Ends we developed:

Poudre School District

Board of Education Policy
District Ends
1.0 Poudre School District exists to support and inspire every child to think, to learn, to
care, and to graduate prepared to be successful in a changing world.
In order for students to graduate and be post-secondary ready with minimal postsecondary remediation and to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world, Poudre
School District children will demonstrate levels of achievement consistent with high
individual expectations.
1.1 Foundations for Success: PSD students attain milestones to ensure long- term
academic success. PSD measures and monitors individual student progress against
these milestones.
1.1.1 Students demonstrate levels of achievement in learning skills and content
knowledge consistent with high expectations across all academic areas in the
Colorado Academic Standards.


Drama and Theatre Arts

Comprehensive Health and Physical Education

English Language Proficiency



Reading, Writing, and Communicating


Social Studies

Visual Arts

World Languages

Career and Technical Education

1.1.2 Students successfully manage transitions.

1.1.3 Students exhibit healthy behaviors in a school environment that supports
excellent physical fitness, nutrition, and mental health.
1.2 Success in a Changing World: PSD students are prepared for college and
workforce success. PSD ensures access and encourages participation in a wide range
of experiences that reflect expectations of a changing world.
1.2.1 Students demonstrate college and workforce readiness.
1.2.2 Within appropriate academic areas, students exhibit these 21 st
century skills:

Work Ethic
Global and Cultural Awareness
Personal Responsibility
Creativity and Innovation
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Information, Media, and Technology Literacy
Civic Responsibility
Social and Emotional Skills

1.3 Above and Beyond: PSD students are challenged, motivated, and inspired to
reach their personal level of excellence. PSD offers students a broad and diverse
set of opportunities that cultivates their talents and offers multiple pathways to
high levels of success.
1.3.1 Students have opportunities to excel in their personal areas of
1.3.2 Students have opportunities for authentic experiences.

1.4 Connections: PSD students feel academically and socially connected to their
school and community. PSD provides engaging opportunities to support students
individual pursuits and interests.
1.4.1 Students have opportunities to pursue avenues of personal
connections with their school communities.
1.4.2 Students have opportunities to develop and sustain enduring
connections with their school communities.
What can you do as a board member to evaluate and improve on the number and time
spent on mandatory testing?
In the spring of 2014, our board asked our school district for information on local, state and
federal testing requirements, as it was clear to us that this issue would likely be exacerbated by
testing overreach during the 2014-2015 school year. As a result, the district took both a hard
look at the testing our district requires and other tests which teachers choose to use, as well as
state and federal testing requirements. This is a document which district staff produced and
which we used to help convey our positions on testing to both legislators and constituents:
As part of our advocacy efforts we engaged in a wide variety activities. We hosted work
sessions with our local legislators both state and federal with our board and district staff.
We made trips to the state Capitol. We talked with local legislators and legislators on the House
and Senate Education Committees. Some members of our board traveled to Washington, DC
with delegations of other school board members to advocate on federal education issues,
including testing. We continue to meet with our federal Representative and Senators to
advocate for what we believe is best for our school district as they work on the Every Child
Achieves Act (the reauthorization of ESEA & NCLB). We engage with our community so we can
understand what people are thinking about testing and encourage them to join us in our
advocacy efforts. Additionally, I attended and testified at both State House and State Senate
Education Committee hearings to advocate for reductions in testing this past spring.
Our efforts, along with many other, produced some results by the end of the state legislative
session. I wrote the following Soapbox about what was accomplished and what work we have
remaining to us in the following Soapbox in the Coloradoan:
If I am re-elected, I will continue these advocacy efforts to work to bring standardized testing to
more reasonable levels and maximize the amount of time our students spend learning.
What will you do to engage the significant block of the public that doesnt have kids in
school in this election?
About 70% of our voters do not have students in our schools. It is important to make the case
to voters of the important role an excellent school systems plays in a community. As an
example of this, I make this case in my recent Coloradoan letter to editor:

Letter: Good schools a community asset

Cathy Kipp 12:47 p.m. MDT September 9, 2015
Strong schools make a stronger community. Thats it. Plain and simple.
Whether you have kids in our local schools or not, our schools make our community a better
place to live. When children have access to a good education, they are more likely to grow up
and become contributing members of society. Our local businesses need skilled and qualified
workers. We need children to become educated citizens who will work, pay taxes and contribute
to our community, not drain it of resources.
Education is the most effective tool we have to break the cycle of poverty and lower the crime
rate. Did you know some states determine the number of prisons they need to build based on
the number of third graders who are not proficient in reading? These students are less likely to
graduate from high school and hold down a job. These students are more likely to be involved
with drugs and crime and end up in jail.
Every dollar spent on education is an investment in our community. Good schools are an
invaluable community asset, but schools dont generally get credit for the great economic good
they provide.
Our area has frequently been voted as one of the best places to live in the country. Our local
schools are one of the reasons were considered such a good place to live. We have great
schools here in the Poudre School District, and we strive every day to make them better.
Recent research shows that school boards have a significant impact on student achievement.
This is why being on the school board is the best volunteer job I have ever had. This is a place
where we can truly make a difference for our kids and make our entire community a better place
to live.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve on the school board these past four years. I
ask for your vote in the upcoming school board elections so I can continue to work to strengthen
our schools.
Cathy Kipp is the vice president of Poudre School Districts Board of Education and is running
for re-election.
Should PSD work toward free all-day kindergarten for all?
All-day free kindergarten for all would be great. The big question is how to fund it. Prior to the
2008 economic crash, the Colorado legislature had taken the first step in this direction by
increasing the funding for kindergarten students from 50% (half time kindergarten) to 57%. The
idea was is the state would gradually increase this amount each year until kindergarten funding
was at 100% (all-day). Then the economy crashed and the state was unable to make further
increases to the 57%. I believe last years estimates were that the current cost of providing allday kindergarten statewide would be $220 million. The economy in Colorado is doing relatively
well. Unfortunately, as we bump up against TABOR limits, restoring lost money to education, let
alone finding money for items which were previously not funded, has become increasingly

With kindergarten funding at 57% per kindergartner, PSD decided the best way to use this extra
7% would be to provide free all-day kindergarten to the students who are most in need and
unable to pay the tuition. A small number of schools with our most at risk students now offer
free all-day kindergarten. Other schools have a few grants, which can be used for the students
most in need.
Since PSD does not get full funding for all-day kindergarten, the question becomes, do we take
money from elsewhere in the budget (i.e. other students), to fully fund all-day kindergarten for all
children. Where would this money come from? What are the trade-offs? Are the places this
money, if we can find it, would be better spent? Unfortunately, its not a simple question.

Should PSD consider a year-round school calendar?

Having served as a parent on PSDs calendar committee for many years, I believe
many of our constituents in PSD are ready to have this conversation. In my last
year on the calendar committee (immediately before I was elected to the school
board), I was pleased to note how many survey responses in the What other
options should we consider? category mentioned year round schools.
The biggest impediment to having this conversation in PSD right now is the issue of
heat in our schools. Until PSD is able to make its school buildings habitable in the
summer, I dont think PSD can take on this issue. The cost of fully air-conditioning
all of our buildings is prohibitive. The school district is working to make changes to
make our buildings more comfortable. In doing this work, they are looking at
solutions which can get schools through shorter periods of heat which we tend to
experience as school starts up in August and September. One of the problems we
experience during the summer when the weather is consistently hot - even at night,
is that there is no opportunity to cool the buildings down. Regulations require that
outside air is continually brought into the buildings. So, even if we start with a cool
building in the morning, once we add a bunch of warm bodies and pump in hot air,
without effective cooling systems, we still end up with a hot building.
As PSD builds new school buildings, they build them with more efficient designs and
cooling systems. Unfortunately, retrofitting PSDs wide variety of older school
buildings with cooling solutions which could stand up to full-time use over the
summer is a much bigger challenge.
What are the benefits of year-round school? I believe the biggest benefit of year
round school is that it prevents the summer slide where kids forget a lot of what
they learned the previous year over the summer, and teachers spend the first part
of the next year re-teaching. For families it means different vacation options and
the ability to take a family trip when its not the peak of tourist season.
What additional issues would need to be overcome to offer year-round schools?
Many teachers pursue their continuing education credits or additional degrees
during the summer break as this coincides with the summer session at many
universities. Many teachers take second jobs over the summer to help make ends

meet. For families who need day-care, does it make it more difficult to find this care
when school is out of session for two or three weeks at a stretch as opposed to a
longer break in the summer?
We may some day get to the point where we can take on these other issues.
Unfortunately, I dont see this happening in the near future.