In this blog site, I discuss a variety of timely issues and provide information that I hope will be helpful to BVSD staff, parents, students, and community members. Your comments are welcomed!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Welcome to a new school year!

Now beginning my sixth year as superintendent of the Boulder Valley School District, I am pleased to see the continued implementation of our long-range strategic plan – “The Success Effect.” Numerous parents, students, staff and community members helped develop this plan, which focuses on three key areas  – Learning, Talent, and Partnerships. We have identified six initial strategic priorities:
  1. Literacy and Early Learning
  2. Systems of Support
  3. Parent and Family Partnerships
  4. Successful, Curious, Lifelong Learners
  5. Educator Growth and Development
  6. Educator Pipeline. 
Learn more about The Success Effect online at The site features a blog with posts from several leaders in BVSD on a variety of topics including innovative learning, family partnership, systems of support, district recruitment efforts, professional learning, and new graduation guidelines.

During the summer, district staff made progress on The Success Effect and related initiatives, including the Building for Student Success bond program. Over $55 million in work was completed at schools during the summer months. Students and staff will return to upgraded interiors and exteriors, renovated restrooms, enhanced security and innovative learning spaces. Essential repair and maintenance on building systems along with energy efficiency upgrades will take place in all schools. Construction of replacement schools for Creekside, Douglass, Emerald and a new PK-8 in Erie began a few months ago and will be completed in August 2017. Bond project information is available at

The environmental health of all learning spaces continues to be a top priority for BVSD. Last year, the  district launched a long-term, districtwide indoor air quality initiative with the University of Tulsa to improve indoor air quality in all district schools. This project will involve collecting indoor air quality data which will be used to make recommendations to building operations and occupant behavior and to identify building renovations to improve air quality.

Thanks to our generous and engaged community, highly qualified educators, excellent leadership, and dedicated support staff, Boulder Valley School District is known for its academic excellence and overall student success. We are committed to providing innovative and effective student learning experiences, employing and developing talented staff, and cultivating strong family and community partnerships to foster even greater student success in the future.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Building for Student Success

With anticipation of warmer weather and students and teachers vacating for the summer, construction crews are moving into high gear to make significant progress on a number of projects in the district’s $576.5 M bond-funded building program. The district Bond Program team currently has over 25 projects in progress. Construction of replacement schools for Creekside, Douglass, Emerald and a new PK-8 in Erie will begin this spring and continue through next school year, with anticipated completion for August 2017. Many phase 1 projects which began construction this past school year will be finished for the start of school in August. Students and staff will return to upgraded interiors and exteriors, renovated restrooms, enhanced security, innovative new learning spaces and, for some, newly air conditioned buildings. Very important but less noticeable repair and maintenance work on building systems and energy efficiency upgrades will take place in all schools. Five phase 2 schools kicked off design work this spring and will likely move into construction early in 2017.

Providing oversight for the entire bond program is the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee. The group has met regularly since May 2015 to review financial reports and project progress. When necessary, the committee reviews and makes recommendations for changes to project scopes of work and budgets. The committee’s meeting schedule and minutes are posted on a dedicated page on the Bond Program website. Meetings are open to the public and there is an opportunity for public comment at each meeting.

We recently launched a redesigned website for the bond program to provide families and community members with comprehensive information about how bond funds are being invested to improve learning environments and extend the useful life of buildings. The website can be accessed at or from a link on BVSD’s homepage. The website provides financial reports, details about specific projects, information about renovations to support sustainability and more. I encourage you to visit it often. All of this is possible thanks to our very supportive and generous community.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Introducing the 2016 Annual Report

The 2016 BVSD Annual Report is being emailed this week to all students, families and staff. The report provides a glimpse of district goals, priorities, financial standing and vision for student success. 
The BVSD Board of Education, administration, educators, staff and parents in every school are vital to the success of all students. The strategic plan, called the Success Effect, is based on three principles: learning, talent and partnerships. The intrinsic objective of the Success Effect is to achieve individual success for all students.

Our commitment to achieving student success will be accomplished by various means, one of those being innovation, achieved by building for student success funded by the bond approved in 2014. Educational innovation is at the core of our effort to improve existing schools as well as new construction projects. Sustainability and secure learning environments are also high priorities. Financial transparency is a fundamental component of the report and our standing with the community.  

BVSD vision, mission and goals will be realized through a commitment to community and family partnerships. We rely on these relationships to achieve student success.

I am hopeful that you find value in this year’s report, and I look forward to our continued success this semester.

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Six Pillars of the Success Effect

Boulder Valley School District has developed a dynamic strategic plan, The Success Effect, with an innovative approach to individual learning and instruction. The goal is to maximize every student’s potential to succeed through a personal approach that recognizes and fosters the unique talent of every child.

Our district is redefining what it means to succeed—building on our strengths, elevating the state of our schools and providing all students with the tools and confidence needed to meet the great challenges of their time. That’s The Success Effect in action.

More than 75 teachers, administrators, staff, parents and community members are presently developing implementation plans to accomplish The Success Effect. Six action planning teams are refining activities to achieve short-term outcomes for the next two to three years. Six priority areas are embedded in three organizing principles of The Success Effect:
  • Systems of Support
  • Literacy & Early Learning
  • Successful, Curious, Lifelong Learners
  • Educator Pipeline
  • Educator Growth & Development
  • Parent & Family Partnerships
We believe that communication is key to keeping staff, students, parents, and the greater community informed and involved in The Success Effect as our work progresses. To that end, Boulder Valley School District is proud to announce the release of our newly redesigned Success Effect website. The website is designed to update all stakeholders about our goals and the priority action areas in the strategic plan. The improved website will serve as a gathering place for information about the strategic plan, school improvement plans, and innovation in our schools. There are expanded capabilities for learning, sharing and interaction.

We encourage you to visit:

Monday, January 25, 2016

BVSD graduation rates rise for fifth straight year

The Colorado Department of Education recently released graduation and dropout data for the state. I am pleased to report the overall rate for students in the Boulder Valley School District who graduated on time in 2015 is 92.3 percent, increasing for the fifth straight year. Statewide graduation rates for 2015 were at 77.3 percent. BVSD has considerably improved its on-time graduation rate from 84.7 percent in 2010 to its current 92.3 percent. Boulder Valley has the highest graduation rate of the top 20 largest school districts. Limited English Proficient, Economically Disadvantaged and Homeless all had an increases in their graduation rates. The dropout rate in Boulder Valley remains the lowest of the top ten largest school districts in Colorado.

Improvement in the graduation rate is the result of very intentional efforts to address student needs as early as possible. By providing prompt individualized support, students are more likely to experience success in school. Employees/educators in every school are committed to increasing student success which makes all the difference.

Boulder Valley has significantly improved credit recovery programming in all schools. Educators work to reach students who are in danger of failing and help them learn the content/skills. Students are able to restore class credits by utilizing various alternative programs during the school year and in the summer.
Counseling is an integral part of appropriate and early intervention for students. BVSD has secured additional resources to help with this effort, specifically the Colorado School Counseling corps grant and other sources, targeted to assist high-risk students through personalized intervention.  

Boulder Valley School District is committed to increasing success of all students and prepare them for life after high school. The district strategic plan, The Success Effect, will enhance services and opportunities in the future fostering student success. Boulder Valley schools are exceptional because talented employees/educators are working in partnership with families and community to provide exceptional learning opportunities for all children.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Researching the ideal school day for all BVSD students

The Ideal School Day Task Force met throughout 2015 to develop a plan that maximizes success for all students using time as a variable and asset. The task force, formed under the auspices of a memorandum of understanding between the Boulder Valley School District Board of Education and the Boulder Valley Education Association, aligned its work with the district strategic plan.

Members of the task force included teachers from different levels and disciplines as well as parents and school administrators. The group was co-facilitated by Lynn Jackson, Boulder Valley Education Association, and Sandy Ripplinger, Assistant Superintendent.

District administrators are analyzing the task force recommendations, including potential logistical issues and costs, before presenting them to the Board of Education and me. We will determine early this semester which recommendations could be implemented in 2016-17 and which need further study. The recommendations under consideration are:

  • Length of school day – Although contract time remains consistent for teachers at all levels, the task force recommends a 7-hour instructional day for elementary and middle school students and a 7.5-hour instructional day for high school students.
  • Later start times for high schools – All high schools should have a later start time.
  • District-wide K-5 rotation model with art, music and physical education – Ensure that students have 55-minute classes in each special, which increases time for art education.
  • District-wide fifth grade instrumental music – The task force received additional proposals late in the process, so the district plans to continue studying this issue. No changes will be made for the 2016-17 school year to give us more time to develop a strategy that addresses the needs and desires of our students, staff and community.

    A representative group – general and instrumental music teachers, classroom teachers, counselors, parents, and school and district administration – will convene to review current models and propose a model that will better meet the needs of all students.

    We will continue to be guided by the work of the 2010-11 Elementary Specials Task Force, which adopted four principles:
  1. Help students grow into well-rounded, healthy adults (based on current medical and educational research)
  2. Provide equal time amongst the specials (Music, Instrumental Music, PE and Art)
  3. Provide adequate time to teach the Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum
  4. Maintain four content areas (Music, Instrumental Music, PE and Art)
  • Analysis of middle school day and schedule – Formation of an Ideal Middle Level Day Task Force to investigate and recommend models that support students and foster optimal growth.
  • Preschool day – Increase preschool to three hours.
  • Board-approved regulation ADF-R on Wellness Physical Activity – Full implementation of the policy including a full 25 minutes for lunch and daily recess at elementary schools of at least 40 minutes.
  • Universal breakfast – Provide breakfast during the school day.
  • Time for teacher collaboration – All schools should have professional learning time for teachers outside of the instructional time for students but inside the contract time for teachers. 

I am pleased with the commitment of the task force members and thank them for their hard work to resolve complex problems with our current schedules that will enhance opportunities for success for all Boulder Valley students.

If you wish to provide feedback on these recommendations, please visit our Ideal School Day website.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

Welcome back to the 2015-16 school year. I hope everyone had a restful and rejuvenating Winter Break.

As students return to school and begin second semester, school and district staff continue work on numerous initiatives supporting student success. Priority action plans are being implemented supporting the district strategic plan, The Success Effect. Phase one planning is well underway on the new bond construction and innovation work. The Board of Education and administration will begin developing the 2016-17 budget. Information describing the Colorado state student assessment will be distributed later this month.

The 2016 Colorado legislative session will begin January 13. This is an optimal time to work with legislators to secure adequate funding for public education. Underfunding public schools in Colorado is having a negative impact on schools, teachers and students throughout the state. BVSD has lost $175M since 2009 due to underfunding and the governor’s proposed budget will result in over $30M additional loss of funds.

If funding from the state had kept pace with inflation and enrollment growth since 2009, BVSD would be able to provide additional services for students including district-wide full-day kindergarten, implementing a comprehensive literacy program, and hiring more school counselors, nurses and teachers. For details, view this handout about The Cost of Education Student Services at BVSD.

Following are a few websites that provide information on organizations working on school funding and related issues.

  • Great Education Colorado - an excellent advocacy organization for parents and educators
  • Colorado School Finance Project - BVSD is an active member of this organization. You can find a lot of information on this website and search TABOR on the site to find specific information.
  • Colorado Fiscal Institute - another excellent resource and we will be asking them to provide a presentation to the BVSD community after the first of the year.
  • Colorado Futures Center at Colorado State University - provides vital research and analysis of public policies impacting Colorado’s future and quality of life. It has helpful information about TABOR.

I encourage all parents, students and staff to contact the governor and legislators to remind them of the importance of public education and encourage them to provide adequate funding. Legislators whose districts are wholly or partially within the boundaries of our school district are listed on the BVSD website. A full directory of members of the Colorado General Assembly is on the state’s website.

I’m looking forward to a great start for the new year!