TSD Is Your School District – Help Us Prepare for the Future!

Lori Hvizda Ward

During the next several months, the Thompson School District Board of Education will be having some of our most-challenging discussions in several years.

We are renegotiating the Memorandum of Understanding with the Thompson Education Association concurrently with developing the district’s budget for 2017-18 and working with the Master Plan Committee to determine possible school boundary changes and school closures.

The outlook for any real increase in state per-pupil funding is dim. With the failure of the bond and mill levy override ballot issues last November, we must consider new ways of doing things.

I’ve heard a lot of ideas and suggestions from a variety of community members about how to solve some of our problems. Most are well-intentioned, coming from people who truly want to help find solutions. Some have raised valid questions and presented alternatives that merit investigation. Others show a limited understanding of how the school district operates. While Thompson uses a variety of methods to get information out to our community, I have realized that there are folks out there who want to know more and get involved, but don’t really know how.

Here is my open invitation to join us, in whatever way you can. We will do better work if we learn from the diverse voices in our community. Following are some opportunities:

• Board of Education meetings: Generally the first and third Wednesdays, with public comment on the third Wednesday, 6 p.m. at 800 S. Taft Ave., Board Room.

• Explore Thompson: Nine month in-depth outreach program for parents and community members to learn about the school district, It starts at the beginning of each school year. To learn more, you can contact our Public Information Officer, Mike Hausmann, at 613-5011.

• Stakeholders meetings: Intended for the general public to learn about issues of interest to parents and students, second Monday, 9 a.m., Board Room.

• Master Plan Committee: Assesses school facility conditions and usage, including boundaries and school closures, second Monday, 5 p.m., Board Room.

• Thompson2Life: Studies graduation requirements, competency-based learning, post-secondary access for all students, second Tuesday, 4 p.m., Board Room.

• District Accountability Committee: Focuses on improvement of the education system, second Tuesday, 6 p.m., Board Room.

• School Accountability Committees: Focuses on improvement of the educational program at individual schools, meeting dates and times vary by school.

• Parent/Teacher/Student Groups (PTA, PTO, PTG, etc.): Designed to improve parent involvement and student opportunities, meeting dates and times vary by school.

• VITAL (Volunteers in Thompson Assisting Learners): The district’s volunteer program allows you to support students by registering and volunteering in the school of your choice. Today, more than 9,000 community members have registered in the program. For more information, visit the district website at www.thompsonschools.org.

Other committees and advisory groups arise from time to time, such as Calendar Committee, Superintendent’s Select Technology Advisory Committee, Construction Review Committee and Bond Oversight. Community members are welcome at all the above, either as members or observers, whether or not they have children attending Thompson schools.

Additionally, the school district holds public forums each year to review the proposed budget. Public meetings are held prior to curriculum adoptions or program changes and we held a variety of public meetings prior to the construction and opening of the new High Plains School.

These are only some of the ways to learn more about Thompson School District. I encourage you to get involved now, learn about the issues and give us your input. Please don’t wait to complain until we do something you don’t like. I personally want to hear from you beforehand. You may email me at lori.hvizdaward@thompsonschools.org, write me at 800 S. Taft Ave., Loveland, CO 80537 or call me at (970) 663-3518. Contact information for other board members is located on the district website above.

Lori Hvizda Ward
President
Thompson School District Board of Education

“Thompson Reinvented” Provides Opportunity for Community Discussion

Lori Hvizda Ward

I love musical theater. So I was interested to read about a local dinner theater’s plans for improvement. The owner plans an expansion that will include a larger kitchen to expedite meal service, a multi-tiered conference center, a workshop space for building sets and an expanded office area. The owner believes these additions will “improve the overall quality of our business,” according to a recent newspaper article.

My family of five lives in a 100+ year-old house. We love it and its location, but parts of it were not adequate for the way we live in this century. We had no real shower, only bathtubs. We don’t have a basement, just a cellar barely large enough for the washer, dryer and deep freezer. The kitchen had one tiny window, 30-year-old appliances and cupboards falling off the walls. Several years ago, we remodeled – expanding the kitchen, adding a bathroom with a shower, moving the laundry room out of the cellar and more. These additions definitely improved the overall quality of our lives.

What’s this got to do with Thompson School District? The Board of Education, in partnership with our education professionals, is tasked with continually improving the overall quality of the educational options we provide for our students. Sometimes that means purchasing new textbooks for an updated math or literacy curriculum. It might mean improving student access to current technology. It also means renovating, building and even possibly closing schools.

After over a year of hard work and creative thinking, the district’s Master Plan Committee has rolled out a plan called Thompson Reinvented. The committee, which is comprised of parents, educators, students and community members, was charged with creating a comprehensive development plan that improves efficiency and identifies growth needs, school consolidations and school reconfigurations. The plan is bold, innovative and exciting. It also comes with a price tag.

There will now be an opportunity for the Thompson community to view the plan and weigh in on its pros and cons. The Board could adopt parts of it, all of it or none of it. We could divide it up into phases to be completed over some future period. Whatever the Board does decide, our goal will be to improve the overall quality of the educational experience of our students.

When the owner of the dinner theater wanted to improve the experience of his customers, he knew it would cost money and he also knew it was an investment in the future success of his business. When we decided to renovate and add on to our house, you bet we knew it would cost money. But we also knew that we would improve the quality of our day-to-day living and that it would be an investment in the value of our home, our most valuable asset.

The same holds true with the physical assets of Thompson School District. If we want to provide our students with ever-improving educational opportunities, our buildings need to be safe, efficient and properly equipped. I believe that by investing in our physical assets now, we are making an investment in our children’s futures. You will be hearing and reading a lot about Thompson Reinvented over the next few months. I urge you to become educated about the plan and about the challenges we face with regard to our aging and overcrowded buildings, as well as those that are underutilized. And yes, there is a price tag. I choose to see it as an investment in our most valuable assets – our children.

Lori Hvizda Ward
President
Thompson School District Board of Education

A Fresh Start for 2016

Lori Hvizda Ward

Welcome to The Board Blog! In our ongoing effort to provide a variety of opportunities for the Board of Education to engage the Thompson School District community, the directors will be “blogging” in this space on a rotating basis. As the new President of the Board, it is my pleasure to write the inaugural column.

January brings a fresh start to the year and for many, all sorts of resolutions to do better, to be more and to try harder. And by now, most of these well-intentioned promises to ourselves have fallen by the wayside. I am happy to say that such is not the case for us on the Board (as a whole; I can’t speak for our individual resolutions!)

Since the new Board was seated in December, we have collaborated in two separate half-day workshops to get to know one another and to uncover our values and goals when it comes to educating our students. I am encouraged by our open communication and the knowledge that each Board Member is motivated by a desire to improve the education that our schools provide for every single one of those students. Of course, we have differing ideas about the “hows” and the “whats.” But we are pretty solid on the “why.” This diversity of voices will lead us to make strong, well-reasoned decisions as we face some important issues in the next few months.

We are currently beginning contract negotiations with the Thompson Education Association, which involves hard work by both the Board and the teachers group and takes us into May. In February, the eagerly anticipated report from the Master Planning Committee will be presented, with recommendations for repairs, renovations or re-purposing of existing buildings. At the same time, the 2016-2017 budget development process gets under way, with little hope for increased funding from the State of Colorado. These three puzzle pieces will need to mesh seamlessly if we are to continue to move the District forward.

So, where do we want Thompson School District to go and how will we know when we get there? As a result of our workshop discussions, the Board has so far identified six goal areas on which we will focus. In conjunction with Dr. Stan Scheer, the Board is also developing goals for the superintendent so that we all can continue to monitor the forward progress of TSD. As I write this, these goals are in development and will be fine-tuned and adopted by the Board at an upcoming meeting.

Which brings me back around to the reason we are initiating this blog: There is a lot going on at the policy level in TSD. If you’ve never attended a Board meeting, or written or spoken to a Board Member, this is a great time to start. If you’ve been keeping up with the Board over the past few years, please continue and know that this year is a new year.

Lori Hvizda Ward
President
Thompson School District Board of Education

Welcome to the “Board Blog”

2015-2017 BOE

Thompson School District Board members are taxpayers, parents, business people, community residents and school volunteers. They all share a deep commitment to providing a sound education to all young people living in the district.  The seven members of the Board are elected at-large from geographic areas for four-year terms. They represent parents as well as residents without children in school.  Board members serve without pay and contribute many hours each month to fulfilling their responsibilities.

This “Board Blog” will feature news and notes from members of TSD’s Board of Education.  Please visit often!