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Durango school board hits the road for monthly work sessions

Effort seen as a way to improve outreach and increase community engagement
Durango School District 9-R Board of Education will travel to different schools for its monthly work sessions in order to create better outreach with its schools. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Durango School District 9-R Board of Education will travel to different schools this year for monthly work sessions in an effort to improve outreach.

The work sessions are usually scheduled for the second Tuesday of each month and were previously held at the district office, 201 E. 12th St.

“This schedule allows us to get out of the formal setting of the district office and into the schools,” said Board Treasurer Rick Petersen in a news release.

Monthly board meetings on the last Tuesday of the month will continue at the district office. Board members say the purpose of the traveling work sessions is to improve communication and connection with schools.

“The newer board members haven’t had a chance to visit some of the schools because of COVID,” said board member Erika Brown. “We’re eager to get back into the schools and see the great work that’s happening.”

Brown said many board members were voted in during the COVID-19 pandemic and haven’t been to all of the schools in the district.

The school board often uses work sessions to discuss topics that are voted on at the end-of-the-month meeting.

The traveling meetings will also give each school the ability to showcase student progress throughout the year in 15-minute presentations. The district’s Portrait of a Graduate plan will be a common theme discussed at the meetings.

“We thought it would be even better to see them kind of in their own learning environment and get to see the teachers and the parents there as well,” Brown said.

The meetings are open to the public.

Brown said the traveling meetings also make it easier for some families to attend board meetings.

“We have some families that live 30 minutes away from the district office, so it’s not really realistic to expect them to come all the way there (to the administration office). Going to them is hopefully going to make that a lot easier,” she said.

There are some downsides to the traveling work sessions. One of those is that the sessions will not be livestreamed. That is to encourage in-person connections and avoid disruptions caused by unreliable internet connection. Also, there will not be public comment at the work sessions. However, the sessions will be audio recorded.

“The board just really thinks that the benefits of being out in the community and in the schools far outweighs any of the negative downsides,” Brown said.

The first work session will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Riverview Elementary School. Board members will tour the new Seeds of Inspiration Lab site and discuss topics such as Colorado Proposition 118 involving paid medical leave.

tbrown@durangoherald.com

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