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WPS Board Honored at Convention

board of education and superintendent pam swanson The Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) honored the Westminster Public Schools (WPS) Board of Education as the best in the state during last week’s state convention in Colorado Springs. The honor, the highlight of the annual celebration, recognized the board for its promotion of “excellence in education”.

Board President Ryan McCoy accepted the award on behalf of the board but quickly noted that the honor was only possible because of the support of the entire community. “As I have often said, we are one big family,” McCoy told the packed ballroom.

The WPS board is unique in that all five members, McCoy, Vice President Joe Davidek, Secretary Ken Ciancio, Treasurer Max Math and Larry (Dino) Valente are all graduates of the district.

Superintendent Dr. Pam Swanson nominated the 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 oversight. 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.”

After the nomination, the board also played a critical role in passing a mill levy override during the November election. It was a vote of confidence for WPS and an important recognition for the district in which voters had rejected tax increases in 2013 and 2014.

The board received a beautiful plaque with a quote from noted education writer Lee G. Bolman. The inscription reads, "School Boards serve a deeper, powerful and more durable function when they serve as both model and catalyst for values like excellence, caring, justice and faith."

The board will also receive $2,500 to be used for any educational purpose it chooses.

10 years ago, the 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

Appropriately enough, not long after receiving the award, the board gathered in a nearby room to host an informational session for other school boards interested in pursuing CBS.