CTE in TSD

CTE is not just another education acronym. It refers to “Career and Technical Education,” an area of study that is gaining more notice among students, teachers, educators and business leaders. But what is it and what does it look like in Thompson School District? Simply put, CTE classes are designed to prepare students for work.

Those of us of a certain age are familiar with the vocational education programs that taught the trades, such as plumbing, welding and auto mechanics. These days, many students want a career pathway in high school but they also enroll in certificate programs or two or four-year degree programs after high school.

Thompson School District offers six CTE pathways to guide students to the courses most relevant to their future careers. Some of the courses in each pathway even provide college credit at no cost to the student. The pathways are:

  • Agriculture & Natural Resources
  • Business & Public Administration
  • Health Sciences & Public Safety
  • Hospitality, Human Services and Education
  • Skilled Trades
  • STEM, Arts, Design and Information Technology

More information can be found on our website: https://www.thompsonschools.org/Page/16494

In addition to our current offerings, an exciting new apprenticeship opportunity will be available to TSD high school students next school year through a partnership with CareerWise Colorado and local companies. Students can enter into a three-year learning experience that combines classroom study, hands-on training and paid meaningful work for a company in their area of interest. Students are able to earn while they learn and come out prepared for careers in high-demand industries that pay average salaries around $50,000.

The CareerWise modern youth apprenticeship program is modeled after long-standing successful programs like that in Switzerland, where nearly three-quarters of high school students participate in apprenticeships, regardless if they pursue higher education. Whether a student enters the workforce immediately after high school or decides to continue their formal schooling, an apprenticeship experience will help them further their career goals.

I am thrilled that we are able to bring CareerWise Colorado to Thompson School District students and I am thankful to our dedicated CTE staff for pursuing this partnership. TSD is one of a handful of school districts across Colorado offering this modern youth apprenticeship opportunity to students. To learn more about CareerWise, please visit https://www.careerwisecolorado.org/

Lori Hvizda Ward
President
Thompson School District Board of Education

A Unique Learning Experience

It’s been almost seven months since I joined the Thompson Board of Education, and during that time I’ve learned a lot. More than anything, I’ve learned that I still have much to get my head around. But given this opportunity, I thought it might be interesting to share about my experience so far being a member of this 2017-2018 Thompson Board of Education.

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What’s it like to be on the Board of Education?
As a member, I’ve learned that I have very little power individually; as a collective, the Board Members direct the course of the entire School District. You may have heard the rumor, but it’s true: Board Members don’t get paid. I’ve done a lot more reading than I expected, and I’ve learned about just how much depth lies in terms like “Affective Needs,” “Multi-Tiered Systems of Support” and “Personalized Learning”. They weren’t kidding when they said that being a Board Member would require about twenty hours a week. I’ve met incredibly talented people that bring amazing programs to our schools while at the same time finding clever ways to fund them. Just when I think I’ve finally got a handle on it all, another fantastic program like “Give Next” surprises and impresses. We have a strong, generous and giving community with a wealth of knowledge and experience in making our schools do more with less. It’s an exciting time for Thompson!

What are the other Board Members like?
Each Member has their own personality, but shares one very important trait – they put students first. Each brings a unique perspective and a wealth of experience to the Board and although that may lead to some fierce discussions at times, it ultimately helps one another make better, more educated and balanced decisions. I don’t think any of our Board members are willing to settle for second best. I’ve seen each member be passionate about supporting our employees. They fervently believe that we can most effectively serve student needs by having a fantastic teacher in every classroom. I’ve observed each member recognize that every contribution from every employee, every volunteer and every giver from our community is an integral and critical part of our District’s success. I’ve heard each member express how important it is for our District to run in a financially responsible manner – to focus very, very hard on stretching every dollar that’s spent. We argue a lot, we laugh a lot and we enjoy one another. It’s a great team to be a part of.

So who’s this new guy from Boulder?
Our incoming superintendent, Dr. Marc Schaffer, is a true “Steward Leader.”  I was impressed with him during our district interviews and I’m growing more and more impressed as I watch him “build a runway” as he becomes an integral part of Thompson. Already I’ve observed him “walking the talk” as he starts by meeting people and LISTENING, just like he said he would do during our interviewing process. He has great ideas and great experiences and he’s willing to share those when it makes sense – but not to overwhelm or try to over-impress. He brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm to our District. He values the strengths that we see in our District and wants to support those in a spirit of continuous improvement. We’re going to miss Dr. Scheer and I hope we continue to see a lot of him as he continues to be a vital member of our community. I also believe it’s safe to say that we’re in good hands with our incoming superintendent.

 

 

Marc Seter

Thompson School District Board of Education

A Call to Action: The Need for Critical Reasoning Instruction

“Critical thinking, analysis of facts and proper policy formation have become extremely difficult in a politicized and media-saturated environment,”

–  Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan CEO, April 2018


Over the span of three decades as an educator, I’ve had a driving passion to help students think critically – meaning to assess and evaluate their own thinking in order to improve it. My journey began as an undergraduate in pursuit of an understanding of how best to teach “thinking.”

As a teacher practitioner, I pursued this goal through professional development opportunities, but found the results to disappointing. I soon abandoned relying on others in the education field and evolved to self-direction.

I based my Masters and Doctorate research on people’s ability to develop and utilize quality reasoning – within the context of organizational leadership.  I discovered a wealth of research focused on how the brain works and what constitutes quality critical thinking. It became clear, however, that few practical connections have been established between the research, knowledge and classroom implementation.

I came to realize how much society in general, and educators in particular, ignore and distort the established lessons of critical thinking.  Ironically, if you Google critical thinking, you will find almost 29,000,000 sites referenced. Critical thinking has become, like so many other disciplines, whatever someone wants to make it.  As a result, classroom practitioners struggle to establish a cohesive, substantive and accurate approach to critical thinking. Unfortunately, my experiences as a teacher, administrator, researcher, educational consultant and now a Board member indicate that schools fail to teach critical reasoning skills except in superficial ways.

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In preschool, children bubble with energy, curiosity and excitement. They want to understand the world, express themselves and relate to others. Instead of capitalizing on this wealth of potential, our schools pursue discipline, conformity and short-term skills acquisition and memorization to perform successfully on standardized tests. Once vibrant minds become passive, lose motivation to learn and become satisfied with the superficial. Instead of seeing education as an opportunity for growth and enjoyment, students learn how to survive the system.

What is incredibly disturbing is that teachers, parents, students, board members, etc. quickly fall into line and become so indoctrinated in current approaches that they no longer see alternative paradigms to education.  We simply accept the status quo as unrefutable truth. Many of these people reading this are probably already getting defensive and are wanting to refute what I am proposing. This is an indication of a trapped mindset designed for self-protection.

While some blame teachers for this superficiality, it really falls upon the entire education system. Flawed groupthink, from the federal level down to the local level, has produced a system lacking substance and an environment that fosters superficial learning with little motivation or resources to improve. Driven by educational fads and short-term decisions, schools continue to struggle to deliver the rigorous, substantive education our children deserve. Educators have become trapped in a fishbowl, unaffected by the knowledge that exists outside the educational system. Nothing significantly new emerges. Instructional strategies, curriculum and levels of rigor get repackaged and reused decade after decade. This helps people keep their jobs and companies make lots of money without having to really change anything.  In the words of Richard Paul, a leading authority in critical thinking, “The history of education is also a history of educational panaceas, the comings and goings of quick fixes for deep-seated educational problems….The result is intensifying fragmentation of energy and effort in the schools, together with a significant waste of time and money.”  Our latest efforts are packaged as “personalized learning.”  Will this simply become another superficial fad, representing the old rather than the new only with a different name, which makes us temporarily feel good and gives the appearance of change? Or we will truly embrace rigorous student learning with new paradigms?

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Many of our politicians and community leaders and many educators continue to buy into the misconception that educational change simply requires schools and classroom teachers to follow dictates about what the outcomes should be and then apply stringent accountability measures. Many believe that tweaking direct instruction around vocabulary, fluency and basic comprehension, adding some technology gadgets into the classroom and having students pursue their self-identified interests, is the key. Rather than elevating student achievement, these erroneous and simplistic methods continue education stagnation.

Society as a whole has created a false perception of being intelligent and educated. We pride ourselves on our intellectualism and try to convince others of our brilliance. In schools, this false perception equates to a belief that excellence in thinking means mastery of basic comprehension skills, a few activities labeled as higher Bloom’s Taxonomy, followed by standardized tests. This approach does little to develop deep reasoning skills or intellectual character. Ron Richhart, another educational leader, reflected on his educational experience by saying, “I quickly discerned that school was more about style than substance, breadth than depth, and speed above all else…I learned that being smart meant having the answers readily at one’s disposal.”

It is a bit ironic that we convince ourselves as a highly sophisticated and educated society, yet one of the major issues we are dealing with right now is how outside countries are able to easily manipulate public perception and thinking to impact elections. In other words, other countries realize our voting citizenry are lacking basic critical thinking skills which can be exploited to manipulate voting outcomes and cause disruptions.  Do we need a louder wake-up call?

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I sincerely believe that all students have the ability to become better thinkers and I would like our district to offer a vision of hope and create a blueprint for a pervasive culture of thinking.  Let’s focus on the development of highly-skilled readers, writers, mathematicians and scientists and most importantly, the development of students with high intellectual character.  Let’s challenge long-standing assumptions of education and move away from a system of indoctrination and memorization to one of intellectual awakening.  We need leaders with long-term thinking based on a substantive theory of education. We need to move critical reasoning instruction from faddish rhetoric to practical reality.  If we fail to develop adults capable of thinking, well, what good is school?

Admittedly, this is a difficult challenge. History demonstrates that external factors dictate education priorities. Accountability measures as “basic” as state standardized assessments that measure minimal skills make for great political rhetoric, but establish educational priorities contrary to the development of quality thinking.  These tests establish an achievement ceiling that I believe should be our floor of achievement.

The powerful impetus for change may have arrived. Political and economic pressures continue to mount. Other world powers, especially China, have gained considerable influence in global politics and economics. For the past seven decades, the United States possessed the military and economic power to promote its interest and maintain world stability. We’ve compelled others to do what we wanted them to do. But the tide has begun to flow out. As the United States faces deep internal problems, emerging countries, aggressive and self-promoting, have moved closer to parity. These trends should encourage business, political and educational leaders to collaborate for the common good.  We can maintain our status and the benefits that come with it by exploiting a competitive edge of free, high-quality thinkers.

Schools stand among the most complex of all societal organizations and must be respected as such. The move toward developing quality thinkers remains to me a moral and ethical calling that requires rising above the mediocrity of politics and short-sided fads. It is definitely a road less traveled. Critical thinking can become a powerful, comfortable and routine aspect of everyday teaching and learning. Most educators sincerely want to move their students past superficial memorization and fragmented information towards deep, connected learning. We just need to redesign our system to prioritize and support this vision. We can do it. And we can do it for all teachers and students.IMG_5039.jpg

I’ve learned much about creating quality thinking classrooms. The Foundation for Critical Thinking highlighted my work and contributions by recognizing me as their national leader in Critical Thinking ten years ago. I continue to teach courses to educators across the globe and provide consulting across our country in pursuit of quality education.  It is difficult to be a prophet in your own land, as people would rather beat you down for their own comfort and protection than support efforts to change. But I hope that as a Board member, I can spark a community-wide conversation about how we want to educate our children and how we can develop world-class critical reasoners.

Dr. Paul Bankes
Thompson School District Board of Education

Helping Your Child Become a Reader

As a classroom teacher, one question that I was frequently asked by parents and guardians was, “How can I help my child become a reader?”  In my experience as an educator, consultant, and adjunct professor, my thoughts have been continually evolving.

One of the most critical elements is reading quality literature to your children.  When reading aloud to your child, select a book that is on a topic of interest (this could be informational), one that is a favorite or one that will lead to deeper conversation.  Another key element is getting the child to think about the selection you are reading – noticing pictures, characters and details in the pictures.  Ask questions like, “What do you notice?” and “What do you think is happening?”  A child will often notice things that we don’t see!  They can focus on the smallest details that will lead to a deeper understanding of the book.  Let them talk about what they are noticing, then move into predicting and always confirming and adjusting the prediction as you continue reading.  When you are finished, take time to talk about the book and find out if they have any questions.  Learning to ask questions is a key part of becoming a reader and thinker.

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Another aspect of helping your child become a reader is when the child transitions into wanting to be that reader.  When the child is learning to read, help and support will need to be given when reading unknown words.  The most effective support is when the reading partner sits down beside the child and “shares” the book.  “What is this word?” is often asked.  Do not immediately say “sound it out” because many of our words are not words that can be sounded out.  For example, if the word is “give,” our phonics logic is the “i” should be a long sound because the “e” on the end is a signal for a long vowel sound.  So many of our words are not words that can logically be sounded out; some words need to be told.  A child needs to have many opportunities to read the word in “real” reading and not just in isolation.

Learning to read is something children are most often very excited to do.  Some students face challenges and others will find it to be a very natural process.  As a literacy partner, the key pieces are reading to them and also being present with them when they become the reader and need some additional support.

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Our staff members throughout Thompson School District are dedicated to providing you with the support that is necessary to help all children learn to read and develop a lifelong love of books. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions you may have.  Our team is eager to help!

 

Barb Kruse

Thompson School District Board of Education

 

RSVP for Thompson School District’s upcoming Family Literacy Night on April 5th!

The Basics and Challenges of TSD’s Budget

As many are aware, Thompson School District has been facing a budget shortfall for the past few years and has been “balancing its budget” with a combination of spending constraints and by drawing upon its reserves. With the reserves expected to be expended by the 2019-2020 school year, the District needs to enact further cost reductions in order to balance the budget. This blog is intended to provide a brief summary of how our K-12 education schools are funded and the approach the Board of Education will use to address these budget issues.

How are our schools funded?

General Fund – Includes teacher / staff salaries, books, bus transportation, building utilities and repairs. The State Constitution directs the legislature to “establish and maintain a thorough and uniform system of free public schools.” The School Financing Act (SFA) requires the legislature to set a mill rate, or property tax rate, for each school district. The state then contributes additional money from state revenue sources such as income taxes and sales tax. A portion of Specific Ownership Taxes from vehicle registration fees are also included. Altogether, the SFA makes up 83.7% of the 2016-17 General Fund revenue. The other 16.3% is comprised of locally approved Mill Levy Overrides (MLO) and other revenues such as partial reimbursement of transportation, special education and vocational education costs and other smaller miscellaneous items. Figure 1 shows the General Fund revenue sources.

Are there any other funding sources?

Yes. Both the federal and state governments provide additional funds through their grant application process. These funds must be applied for and used for the specific stipulated purposes such as free and reduced lunch, English as a Second Language and grants for at-risk children due to low family income. In addition, the District receives mill levy money to service the debt on voter-approved school construction bonds. A comprehensive presentation of the current and past schools budgets can be found on the District website through the following link: https://www.thompsonschools.org/cms/lib/CO01900772/Centricity/Domain/52/2017-18AdoptedBudget.pdf

If my property values increase, as they have been doing, wouldn’t the schools get more funding?

No. The State Constitution, through the TABOR amendment, prevents total state expenditures from increasing, except proportionally in response to population increases and inflation. Each year the state determines the SFA funding level for each district. As property values increase, mill levy tax rates have been proportionally decreasing in order to keep the annually determined funding at the level set by the state. The tables below compare assessed property values and education-related mill levy rates for the past 13 years.

What is the Budget Stabilization Factor (Negative Factor)?

“The “budget stabilization factor” (formerly known as the negative factor) is a provision in state budgeting that reduces the amount of total SFA program funding provided to K-12 school districts. The economic downturn beginning in 2007 reduced state operating revenue from income taxes and state sales tax. As a result, the General Assembly faced budget shortages across all functions of government. Although the constitution requires annual increases in base per-pupil funding, the constitution also requires a balanced budget. In short, the budget stabilization (negative) factor is the difference between what a school district is supposed to receive in SFA funding according to state law and what the state actually provides to the district. Since it was first introduced, the cost of the budget stabilization (negative) factor has grown from an original recission of $130 million statewide to its current balance in FY 2015-16 of approximately $855 million.

(Copied from ‘THE NEGATIVE FACTOR AND PUBLIC SCHOOL FINANCE By Josh Abram. See link below)

https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/issue_brief_on_the_negative_factor_in_the_school_finance_act.pdf

The budget stabilization (negative) factor for the Thompson School District is shown in the chart below. Without the budget stabilization (negative) factor the District would have received an additional $115.6 million over the past 8 years ($14.5 million per year average)

If the State has reduced school funding since 2010, what has the District done to meet this new reality?

The District has implemented multiple approaches to manage the reduced budget, including the following:

  • Reduced administrative staff – lowest in comparison to all neighboring districts
  • Eliminated cost of living raises in some years
  • Deferred building maintenance
  • Postponed upgrades to academic curriculum
  • Postponed upgrades to technology and infrastructure
  • Delayed replacement of worn-out buses
  • Use of financial reserves

What is the value of the District’s financial reserves and when will they be expended?

As explained above, the District has been drawing down its financial reserves as one of its strategies to address reduced school funding. The chart below shows the reduction on a year-by-year basis from 2007-08 through 2016-17. State law requires the District to maintain a TABOR reserve equal to 3% of the prior year’s General Fund revenue, or approximately $3.9 million for 2017-18. In addition, since 2000 the Board of Education has required an additional 2% reserve. As the chart shows, the District unrestricted reserve is projected to be nearly expended at the end of the school year 2019-2020.

Since the District will exhaust its financial reserves by school year 2019 – 2020, what does the District intend to do?

The State Constitution requires the Board of Education to approve the school district budget, a responsibility which each Board member takes very seriously. District staff report regularly to the Board on its proposal for the next school year’s budget, which begins on July 1 of every year. After review and Board directed changes, the Board approves the following year’s budget in June. This year, the Board has directed District staff to develop two budgets for the upcoming school year (beginning July 1, 2018) and for the subsequent year (beginning July 1, 2019). The Board has also directed staff to present recommended budget reductions necessary to balance the budget, based on best estimates of revenue and expenses.

Since the budget must be reduced, what is likely to be cut?

This is the focus of the Board’s attention and every budget line item will be reviewed for efficiency and potential impacts on educational outcomes. It is premature at this time to speculate, but every option must be analyzed as nothing is off the table.

If the budget cuts aren’t necessary until the school year starting July 1, 2019, why identify the cuts one year in advance?

This is necessary for several reasons:

  • Since the cuts will impact the District, it is advisable to reflect on the choices made over the course of one year before they are implemented and also allow time to make advisable changes.
  • It allows the District to present the proposed changes to our families and the community. The District will encourage public input and seriously consider proposed changes.
  • It allows the District to prepare for the forthcoming changes in order to minimize its impact to students, parents and staff.

Thompson School District and your Board of Education are committed to providing the absolute best educational opportunities for all students and to do so within the financial resources available. Some tough choices will be necessary to balance the budget and as presented above, the District will undertake an orderly process to make the best decisions possible. If you have any questions or wish to contact me directly, I would be happy to discuss any thoughts you might have.

 

David Levy

Board of Education Member

dave.levy@thompsonschools.org

Changes Coming to TSD School Schedules in 2018-2019

On January 17, the Thompson School District Board of Education approved an adjustment to start and release times, as well as a one-hour late start on Wednesdays, beginning in the 2018-2019 school year.  A district task force will now work on a variety of items to help ensure a smooth transition, including a start and release time for our K-8 students.  More details will be announced in the coming weeks.

For more information on these changes, please see the letter below from Board President Lori Hvizda Ward. 

Thank you,
Mike Hausmann
TSD Public Information Officer


Lori Hvizda Ward - December 2017

As a mom, I’ve always wanted the best for my children. In my work on the Board of Education, I want the best for all 16,000 children in Thompson schools. Recently, the Board has made two important and exciting decisions that will bring positive changes for our students.

Beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, middle school and high school students will start their day later and elementary students will start a bit earlier.  Here is a summary of the tentative start and end times:

Elementary Schools:  8:00 am – 3:10 pm
High Schools:  8:30 am – 3:50 pm
Middle Schools 8:45 am – 4 pm

Districts around the state and across the country have been moving in this direction for several years with positive results. The Centers for Disease Control, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics all recommend that secondary students start school no earlier than 8:30 AM, citing a variety of benefits to student health and learning, including:

-Increased attendance rates
-Increase in GPA
-Increase in state test scores
-Increase in student attention
-Increase in quality of student-family interaction
-Decrease in disciplinary action
-Decrease in student-involved car accidents
-Decrease in student sleeping during instruction

(Source: “Later School Start Times Promote Adolescent Well-Being.” American Psychological Associationwww.apa.org/pi/families/resources/school-start-times.pdf.)

In addition, our own survey in November 2017, which obtained approximately 4,000 responses from students, parents, employees and community members, showed anywhere from 56% to 71% support for these bell schedule changes. After studying the expert research, reviewing results from other school districts and hearing from our own community, I was easily convinced that this change would be best for our students.

Another difference in the school calendar for 2018-2019 is the addition of a one-hour late start every Wednesday morning to allow time for educators to collaborate in their planning and professional growth opportunities. Teacher quality is the most important influence on student learning and the Board heard from both the Calendar Committee Task Force and the Recruit and Retain Task Force that providing educators a regular and consistent time to collaborate improves their teaching practice. This new calendar will add four more school days for students, as the previous practice of full days off for teacher professional development is being replaced by the Wednesday one-hour late start.

As with any change, these new schedules will take a little getting used to. Thompson School District and the Board of Education are challenged to make improvements to student learning, yet we are limited by the reality of budget constraints.  These two approaches are especially appealing to me because they allow us to make meaningful change at very little financial cost.  I am proud of the Board for its commitment to be a careful steward of your tax dollars, while also moving forward with promising innovations that are best for kids.

As always, we appreciate your continued support.

Sincerely,
Lori Hvizda Ward
President
Thompson School District Board of Education

“Science and Critical Thinking Go Hand-In-Hand”

Carl Langner

By Carl Langner
Member, Thompson School District Board of Education

This brief report is in response to an invitation to all TSD board members to submit “Blog” reports within our areas of expertise – for placement on the District website.  This report addresses the teaching of science, which together with engineering, was the focus of my working life for more than 50 years.

Science is the study of our physical world.  A well-rounded education must include acquiring some knowledge of Astronomy, Geology, Biology, Chemistry and Physics, as well as sufficient knowledge of Mathematics, History, Literature and Art.  Science knowledge provides a person with understanding of how and why the Earth operates as it does, with its atmosphere, oceans, crust and core, animal and vegetable life, weather and seasons, material resources, etc., and how the Earth connects with the vast universe surrounding us.

Science is about observable evidence and theoretical models constructed from the associated experimental data.  If consistent with observations, theories enable predictions of future events.  While science is never settled, some scientific “facts” and theories are more reliable than others, such as the periodic chart of the elements; the physical and chemical properties of various materials; Newton’s laws of motion and gravitation; Einstein’s theory of relativity; the description and categorization of all living creatures; and Darwin’s theory of evolution.  These and many other well-tested theories and observed data may be used without qualms in our efforts to save lives from dread diseases; to feed the world’s population; to build roads, bridges, dams, skyscrapers, and comfortable homes; to easily communicate with anyone; and to fly passenger planes around the world and spacecraft to faraway planets, etc.

However, it is important to inject a word of caution about the teaching of science in today’s world, as there have been extensive efforts in recent years by radical environmentalists and others to corrupt certain elements of science so as to advance their harmful political agendas.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been especially active in promoting politicized science, including hiding test data and lying about test results.  Such EPA-corrupted subjects include: (1) effects of human burning of fossil fuels on global climate change, (2) effects of low doses of radiation and certain chemicals on human health, and (3) effects of fine particulate matter on human health.  When encountering these politicized subjects, I would urge every science teacher to proceed with caution and at least to teach both sides of these controversial subjects.  I must also urge all science students to apply large doses of skepticism and “critical thinking” when discussing such subjects and please do your own research on these topics.

My own research studies led me to the following conclusions: (1) Climate is always changing, but is not affected to any significant degree by the emission of carbon dioxide due to human burning of fossil fuels.  There is almost no correlation between global mean temperatures and the amount of atmospheric CO2, except at scales of hundreds of years where it is apparent that temperature controls the CO2 content, not the other way around.  The false contrary view is harmful in that it drives up energy prices for everyone, and denies poor countries the benefits of cheap abundant energy.  See Ref’s 1 – 4.

(2)  While ionized radiation and certain chemicals such as DDT and Ozone are harmful to humans at large doses, they have virtually no effect on human health at the small doses encountered in normal environments.  And yet the EPA has put strict limits on miniscule amounts of both radiation and various chemicals.  In particular, EPA’s efforts to rid our homes of Radon gas are counter-productive.  Extensive tests involving large segments of the U.S. population have shown that Radon gas, instead of causing lung cancer, actually decreases the lung cancer death rate up to 30%, at the small levels found in our homes.  See Ref’s 5 – 7.

(3)  Finally, over the past two decades, the EPA has declared that fine particulate matter (basically ordinary dust) is extremely deadly to everyone, but has refused to release any data to prove their contention.  Instead, they used this false theory to change the way farmers plow their fields, and to shut down numerous power plants, refineries, and manufacturing plants, etc.  Recent third party data has completely disproved this EPA theory about fine particulates.  See Ref 8.

May scientific truth prevail in our classrooms!

References

  1. Don Easterbrook (editor), Evidence-Based Climate Science, 2nd Edition, Elsevier Press, Amsterdam, 2016.
  2. John R. Christy, “Testimony to the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Feb 2, 2016,” available from The Heartland Institute.
  3. Craig Idso, Robert Carter, S. Fred Singer, Climate Change Reconsidered II, Physical Science, Summary for Policymakers, The Heartland Institute, 2013.
  4. Craig Idso and Sherwood Idso, The Many Benefits of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment, Vales Lake Publishing, Pueblo CO, 2011.
  5. Ed Hiserodt, Under-Exposed, What If Radiation is Actually Good for You?, Laissez Faire Books, Little Rock AK, 2005.
  6. Don Luckey, Radiation Hormesis, CRC Press, Boca Raton FL, 1991.
  7. Bernard Cohen, “Test of the linear no-threshold theory of radiation carcino-genesis for inhaled radon decay products,” Health Physics, vol.68, 1995.
  8. Steve Milloy, Scare Pollution, Why and How to Fix the EPA, Bench Press, 2016.
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The Thompson School District Board Blog is a communication path for Board of Education members to connect with the community and share their thoughts on educational matters and other items of interest to them.  The views expressed in Board Blog entries are solely the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the TSD Board of Education as a governing body.

Board of Education Announces Application Process for “District C” Vacancy

Board of Education Announces Application Process for “District C” Vacancy
August 16, 2017 – On Wednesday, August 16, 2017, the Thompson School District Board of Education formally accepted the resignation of board member Denise Montagu, who represents Director District C. Ms. Montagu is relocating outside the community. In accordance with State of Colorado statute, the following process will now be in effect to fill the vacancy:

Since the vacancy was officially created and accepted within the ninety-day period prior to the Board’s regular biennial election and the unexpired term is greater than two years, the district Board of Education has sixty days to appoint a successor. The person appointed to fill the vacancy will serve on the Board until the next succeeding regular biennial election in November 2019.

Applications may be picked up and dropped off at the Thompson School District administrative office (800 S. Taft Avenue) beginning tomorrow, Thursday, August 17. The deadline to submit applications is Monday, September 18 at 4:30 PM. Public interviews with the Board of Education will be held on Wednesday, September 20. To verify the director district that you reside in, please visit http://www.thompsonschools.org/planning. On the web page, click the “School Locator” link in the left column.

All candidates for the vacant position must meet the following requirements:

-Candidate must be a “qualified elector” of the state (qualified to vote).
-Candidate must be an “eligible elector” (registered to vote).
-Candidate must be a resident of the school district for at least twelve prior consecutive months.
-Candidate must be a resident of Director District C.
-Any person who has been convicted of, pled guilty or no contest to, or received a deferred judgment and sentence for a sexual offense against a child is not eligible to hold a seat on a board of education in the state of Colorado.

For more information on the application process, please call 970-613-5013.

TSD Is Dedicated to Providing Suicide Education and Support to Families

Pam Howard-Red Jacket

The news of a suicide is absolutely devastating, especially when it’s one of our youths. Nothing is more tragic or heartbreaking than when we are notified that a student has passed away, whether it is due to an illness, an accident or the act of suicide.

As a member of the Thompson School District Board of Education, I work closely with Superintendent Dr. Stan Scheer and our administration team. Everyone’s top priority is the safety and well-being of our students. Our district is constantly striving to provide support for peers, family members and educators, and to get more training implemented for the staff and the whole community.

Although I certainly wish it were different, the truth is that the incident rate of suicide among our youths is not dwindling. It is an issue that is becoming an ever-growing concern, not just in Thompson but also in many other communities across the region and United States. In a time when students have more ways than ever before to communicate — including personal cellphones, text messages and social media — some students still feel an extreme sense of isolation. It is sometimes difficult for them to ask for help and it is also often easy for friends and family members to miss the warning signs of something very serious.

Therefore we must not focus on blame or shame, but rather help and support.

Our school district has taken the lead in the community to educate students and families and staff about the warning signs of suicide and also to provide a robust system of support for families, friends and school communities that have suffered a loss. Here are just a few of the programs that are in place right now to address training, prevention, support and postvention. As the new school year begins, more trainings will be taking place.

Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA):

Thompson School District has seven Youth Mental Health First Aid instructors who offer evidence-based training for adults on how to help a child who might be experiencing a mental health and/or crisis situation. During the 2016-17 school year, the district hosted 12 classes and 250 educators, parents, and community members completed the training.

Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST):

This evidence-based, two-day intensive workshop provides practical information and skill building for anyone seeking to learn what to do or say when someone they know or love might be having thoughts of suicide. The interactive program includes lecture, discussion, videos, simulations, and skills practice. Thompson hosted three sessions during the 2016-2017 school year and trained 78 staff and community members.

SafeTALK:

SafeTALK is an evidence-based 3 ½ -hour workshop that offers skills to help keep people from missing, dismissing and avoiding signs of suicide. Attendees learn how to approach someone they are worried about as well as how to connect them with lifesaving resources. The district sponsored four sessions this past school year and had 80 educators and community members complete the training.

“Signs of Suicide:”

This is an evidence-based universal suicide prevention and school-based depression curriculum that is intended for middle and high school students. This past year the curriculum was taught at all five middle schools, training over 600 students and educators.

“Sources of Strength:”

“Sources of Strength” is an evidence-based prevention program that uses peer leaders to enhance protective factors associated with reducing suicide at the school level. Peer and adult leaders from Berthoud High School were trained in March and TSD is rolling the program out to every high school this fall.

“Thompson CARES Wellness Night:”

The district hosted its second annual Wellness Night in February. A total of five sessions were hosted for adults and three secondary student sessions were also provided. A keynote speaker also presented to the 200 people who attended.

“Supporting our Students – Mental Health Crisis & Suicide Prevention Summit:”

This program was held at Berthoud High School last September and featured a panel of Thompson School District administrators and liaisons from our community partners including Loveland Police Department, Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Human Services, Alliance for Suicide Prevention, Heart-Centered Counseling and Pathways Hospice.

Three district protocol demonstrations around suicide prevention were provided to the 60 people in attendance.

Community Events:

The district also works extensively with a variety of local partners to provide support to our communtiy, including Heart-Centered Counseling, McKee Medical Center, the “Imagine Zero” Coalition and the Alliance for Suicide Prevention.

Even with all of the programs, protocols and activities detailed above, we realize that the need for more support continues to grow. Thompson School District is fortunate to have been able to apply for and be awarded grant funding to make these programs possible. However, grant funding expires and we are always having to make difficult decisions on what we are able to provide. Our staff is constantly refining programs and methods to educate and support our staff, students, families and community.

To learn more about our district’s efforts and upcoming trainings, I encourage you to visit the Thompson Cares resource page on the TSD website located at www.thompsonschools.org/thompsoncares. You may also connect via the Facebook page (“ThompsonCARES”).

There is still so much more work to be done and a school district can’t go it alone. The challenge to help our youths must be addressed by all stakeholders: our local government, faith community, nonprofit networks, mental health workers, schools, families and friends. As noted above, we have a good start on outreach and training, but we need to keep expanding. Let’s continue to partner and work together as a community.

Most importantly, if you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out for assistance. Safe2tell is a 24/7 hotline and website that offers help and the caller can remain anonymous.

Safe2tell.org; 1-877-542-7233.

Pam Howard
Vice President
Thompson School District Board of Education

Students Continue to Thrive Here in Thompson

Lori Hvizda Ward

With the books closed on the 2016-2017 school year, it’s a good time to celebrate student success in Thompson School District. One of my goals as a member of the Board of Education is to ensure we provide many paths and opportunities for our students to succeed. A traditional measure of student success is, of course, a high school diploma. Graduation rates in TSD have been increasing over the past several years and over 1,000 students earned their diplomas this Spring.  They were offered a total of over $19 million in scholarships to further their educations.

This is all good news.  But there are lots of other student successes that I have observed throughout Thompson School District this past year that don’t get the kind of attention that graduations get.  Here are some, but by no means all, of the successful students and programs I’ve seen this year.

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Dual Language Immersion at Truscott Elementary and Cottonwood Plains Elementary – Nearly 90 kindergartners learned their lessons in both English and Spanish this year. Both schools will add second grade to their dual language program in the fall.

Community Connections – This program, which is designed for students with disabilities who have completed high school but haven’t yet reached age 21, recently moved into a new and improved location. A total of nineteen students participate in the program, working hard to learn independent living skills and a variety of other items that they can use in the workforce.

Presentations of Learning – Many of our middle school students successfully gave presentations to an audience of parents, teachers, other students and community members that included highlights of their learning or a problem-based solution. The presentations are an excellent way for students to demonstrate their academic growth over the past year and also learn a little bit more about themselves along the way.

Entrepreneurship “Pitch Night” – High school student groups “pitched” their products to community judges in a competition sponsored by local Rotary club members to earn funding to carry their business plans to the next level. This year, two groups successfully convinced “investors” to back their proposals.

Performing Arts – In the statewide competition for the Bobby G Awards in high school theater arts, Mountain View High School’s production of Children of Eden was nominated in six categories, while Loveland High School was nominated for the outstanding choreography of their production of Guys & Dolls.

Culinary Arts – Two teams of culinary arts students from Thompson Valley and Mountain View high schools participated in a cooking challenge at Disney resorts in Florida, with one of the teams earning two first-place medals. At Berthoud High School, catering students held a “food truck cook off,” with their classmates judging their creations on presentation, taste, creativity and practicality.

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When I proudly walked across the stage many years ago with my high school diploma in hand, I couldn’t have imagined any of these opportunities for success. Our students are all unique individuals with different interests and abilities who have a wide variety of goals for their futures. It is our mission in Thompson School District to provide them many pathways to success. I am very proud of the guidance that we as a community provide to all of our students and I hope you will join me as we continue to do all that we can to support the approximate 16,000 students who make Thompson the incredible district that it is.

Lori Hvizda Ward
President
Thompson School District Board of Education