The State Board of Education directed the struggling Adams County School District 14 last week to finalize an improvement plan but also asked for more details about the role of an outside company it plans to work with.
The board unanimously supported the direction of the plan. It will vote on a finalized version next month.
Adams 14, which enrolls almost 8,000 students, and state officials presented a proposal for the district to partner with an Arizona-based nonprofit, Beyond Textbooks, to help take on some of the duties the district hasn’t successfully handled itself.
The nonprofit will work with Adams 14 at three schools, including with half of the teachers at Adams City High School, providing teachers a guide to teaching the state standards, helping them track whether students learned the material and training them to help students who don’t get it the first time. The company will also train leaders to coach teachers.
District officials talked to the state board about how they’ve also introduced a biliteracy program at the elementary level. The district already offers a biliteracy seal for graduating students meeting requirements to prove proficiency in two languages. Adams 14 has the highest percentage of students identified as English learners in the state.
State education department staff members told the board they still have concerns with the district’s plan. They said they wanted more details about the role Beyond Textbooks will play, and more details about other proposed changes the district is planning on their own.
State board members questioned the district on how it is engaging parents, communicating with its staff and how it will give authority to Beyond Textbooks.
Kevin Carney, the executive officer for Beyond Textbooks, told the state board the company has had more success working in partnership with school districts and making recommendations, not taking full authority.
District superintendent Javier Abrego told the board that he will take recommendations from the company under serious consideration.
Carney added that it is the school district’s board of education that should be responsible for holding the superintendent accountable.
The state board has increasingly struggled with approving management plans where the districts don’t give much authority to the outside companies. Commissioner Katy Anthes told the board the department has clarified that the law requires companies take more authority in the case of struggling schools, but is more flexible with districts.
Yesenia Robles is Chalkbeat Colorado’s suburban reporter looking at changes happening in Denver’s suburban school districts, chalkbeat.org.