A broad range of topics was addressed at the Platte Canyon School District Board of Education regularly scheduled meeting Monday night. The meeting was held at Deer Creek Elementary School.
The first order of business for the board was to honor Fall Sports/Activities State Qualifiers. The Board of Education recognized all of the student-athletes who qualified for state in fall athletics and activities.
Cross country state participants included Hannah Grover, Sydney Wagner, Eligha Hamari, Jace Valentine, Tucker Sussenbach, Gavin Geiger, Chris Long and Emma Dikken.
Long placed eighth at State and made Second Team All-State. Dikken placed ninth at State and also garnered Second Team All-State honors.
Keith Giles made Honorable Mention All-State Team in football, and for the second consecutive season, Jaden DiMeo was named to the Honorable Mention All-State Team for her contributions as part of the Lady Huskies softball squad.
The Board of Education also recognized athletic director and head volleyball coach Johnna Bambrey for being voted Frontier League Volleyball Coach of the Year by her peers.
PCSD Superintendent and PCHS Principal Mike Schmidt, as well as Deer Creek Principal Jeffery Lubansky and Fitzsimmons Middle School Principal Jesse Walters, provided the board with updates regarding recent STEM Program (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities in their buildings.
The list of STEM activities was extensive at all three institutions, and the principals indicated that participation was strong amongst students. All three institutions have strived to make those classes and activities fun and engaging, and those efforts have seemingly been rewarded with high levels of student interest and involvement.
As part of the regular agenda, Schmidt addressed enrollment numbers. The most striking aspect of the presentation was that there has been very little change in enrollment numbers throughout the district over the last three years. It is Schmidt’s hope that the slow decline in enrollment numbers that has occurred over time is beginning to level off.
Student enrollment throughout the district has remained remarkably constant since 2017, and there has been only about a 3% change in the district’s overall head count during that time. Fitzsimmons Middle School enrollment is actually up from last year, and the district’s overall student head count is at 908 - virtually the same as the 2018-2019 Academic Year (917).
Also noteworthy are the adjustments the district has made in lieu of changing enrollment numbers it, and other similar rural districts, have encountered over the last couple of decades.
The district made the determination a couple of years ago that it would make the best of the smaller head count by offering students the opportunity to tailor their schedules and classes to their own educational and career aspirations.
PCHS students still have to take core classes mandated by the state, of course, but through the Academies Program they are also at liberty to create a schedule that is more pertinent to their individual skills and interests. Interest levels have been high, and student feedback regarding the new program has been extremely positive, according to Schmidt.
Students can even propose areas of self-study to administrators, and if their proposal is accepted, they can receive credits by pursuing – with institutional oversight – almost any academic discipline or career path they desire.
By implementing a more individualized approach, and giving its students (9th-12th-graders) more options in structuring their own schedules, the district is providing opportunities for students that larger districts might find impractical, or even impossible, to implement.
Schmidt describes the budding program as one that offers students an “a la carte,” of sorts, in terms of primary areas of study.
In other news, the superintendent outlined a number of major projects the district has undertaken from August of 2018 to present. The extensive list of structural improvements and other projects throughout the district totaled $396,757 in 2018, and $486,261 in 2019-2020. Many of those projects, according Schmidt, represent “one-time” expenses to the district.