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WPS Board Named Best in State

5 memebrs of the board of education

The Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) has named the Westminster Public Schools (WPS) Board of Education the recipient of this year’s All State Board of Education award. The annual award honors boards who have been, ”notable leaders in their districts, exercising the best principles of governance while promoting excellence in public education.”   

Board members, President Ryan McCoy, Vice President Joe Davidek, Secretary Ken Ciancio, Treasurer Max Math and Larry (Dino) Valente will be honored at CASB’s 78th Annual Convention, Dec. 6-9, 2018 in Colorado Springs. The board will also receive $2,500 to be used for any educational purpose it chooses.

The WPS Board is unique in that all five members are graduates of the school district and have chosen to give back to the community that helped them succeed. Superintendent Dr. Pam Swanson nominated members for the award, citing the district’s dramatic improvement from a “Turnaround District” on the state Accountability Clock a decade ago to an “Improvement District” no longer facing state over site. She wrote:

“During tumultuous times, the Westminster Public Schools Board of Education pulled together to stabilize a district in crisis, boost confidence and morale and most important of all, improve the educational outcomes of almost 10,000 children.  Because of their selfless dedication to the community they grew up in, I believe this Board of Education deserves consideration for CASB’s All State Board Award.”

A committee of current and former board members reviewed the nominations from around the state and agreed that WPS stood out. “The committee was really impressed by the board’s commitment to steady excellence,” said Randy Black, CASB Director of Member Relations.

Ten years ago, the WPS Board of Education championed the district’s use of a Competency Based System (CBS) that does away with traditional grade levels and the destructive use of “social promotion” by requiring students to show mastery or understanding of a learning topic before advancing to the next level. CBS allows some students to progress quickly, when appropriate, or take more time to fill in learning gaps, when necessary. WPS is the largest district in the country to move entirely to a competency-based approach. While educators across the country are now embracing CBS, it was considered a radical change when first implemented.

The nomination also cited the BOE’s important role in several other key education issues:

  • Commitment to quality teaching with one of highest starting salaries in Colorado
  • Full-day funding of kindergarten and expansion of pre-school programming
  • “On the Road” community meetings to discuss long-term plans for the district and build support for CBS and the  Vision 2020 plan
  • Rebranding of the district including new name and tagline “Where Education is Personal”

“Our board has never done any of this hard work for recognition or even a pat on the back,” said Swanson. “They did it because it was the right thing for our children“