It was a night for showing appreciation Nov. 11 at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Platte Canyon School District Board of Education.

Two retirement presentations were held, one for Patrick Adkins, a bus driver with the district for 16 years, and one for Victoria Sparer, an elementary school teacher for 15 years. Both were presented with rosewood boxes as a show of appreciation for their service to the district.

Outgoing board member Katy Davis was also presented with a rosewood box for her service over the last four years.

“I really appreciate Katy’s quiet strength, her passion, and her dedication to doing what’s best for students,” said Board President Katie Spodyak. “She has been a tremendous asset for the district, and will be missed.”

That vacancy, as well as a Nov. 5 election in which board member Jon DeStefano was defeated, leaves two vacancies on the board that will be filled by incoming board members Amy Carman and Heather Prewitt.

DeStefano, who served more than five years on the PCSD board, expressed his appreciation with a heartfelt goodbye.

“The district has come so far, and we are a very different district than we once were. Our openness, the way we deal with the public … and I think the community has become more of a family. I want to thank the community for their support,” DeStefano said. “Serving the district has been a blessing for me and my family.”

In his monthly report, PCSD Superintendent Mike Schmidt fittingly first expressed his appreciation for the service of our nation’s veterans.

Schmidt also applauded Fitzsimmons Middle School for having recently received a John Irwin School of Excellence award by the Colorado Department of Education.

John Irwin awards are presented to schools demonstrating exceptional academic achievement over time, and are also reserved for schools receiving an “Exceeds Expectations” rating on the Academic Achievement indicator of the School Performance Frameworks, reflecting exceptional performance in math, English language arts and science.

Schmidt also addressed a pair of topics that always seem to generate plenty of public interest: the 2020-21 academic school year calendar, and the decision-making processes by which snow days, half days, and delayed starts are declared by the district due to inclement weather.

With regards to school days that are shortened or canceled due to weather, Schmidt made it clear that those decisions are made independently of surrounding districts.

“We are a large, unique district, stretching from Pine to Kenosha Pass,” Schmidt explained. “So our decisions are not made based on those of other districts … not Jefferson, not Clear Creek, and not South Park. We are going to do what’s best for us, and what is in the best interest of our students and staff.”

Schmidt also explained that the air temperature, wind chill and road conditions are typical considerations when determining if school schedules should be altered due to weather. Schmidt also stated that students must attend school for a designated number of hours, and that altering the schedule is not a decision the district takes lightly.

Finally, Schmidt said that about one-third of the district’s staff commutes from Denver, and that travel conditions outside the district on U.S. Highway 285 are also a consideration. Two school days have already been altered due to weather this year, which Schmidt said was unusual for the month of October.

After more than three months of providing options and revised options for feedback to the community, parents and students, the calendar for the 2020-21 school year is beginning to take shape.

The biggest difference with the proposed calendar is that the first day back to school from summer vacation would occur Aug. 17, one week later than usual. The board opted to vote on finalizing the 2020-21 calendar at December’s regularly scheduled meeting.

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