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SWOS board discusses teacher evaluations and attendance at board meeting

Southwest Open School students make soap in the lab of their new science building. (Courtesy photo)
The school plans to hire a few teachers for the 2024-2025 school year

At their March 11 board meeting, the Southwest Open School board discussed end-of-year teacher evaluations, attendance and grants.

In their board report, the board noted that SWOS students had a great time at the recent Futures Fair, which was a career fair held at the fairgrounds for local students to explore potential colleges, trade schools, and careers.

SWOS Director Casey Simpson shared that the monthly focus for March is employee supervision and evaluation. The staff end-of-the-year evaluations began on Monday, March 11, the same day as the board meeting.

The evaluation rates teachers based on many facets of their relationship with students, colleagues, parents and stakeholders, professionalism, academics, classroom management, data-driven culture, rituals and traditions and SEL/character education, according to the teacher evaluation materials provided by SWOS.

The teacher evaluation also included a professional growth plan for teachers, asking them to consider focus areas of their professional growth and development, as well as the development they’d like to see in the school as a whole moving forward.

Currently, 18 out of 20 current staff want to return for the 2024-2025 school year. Simpson said one teacher is leaving when the grant funding for the position ends, and the other teacher is leaving due to “life circumstances.”

The school is hoping to hire a few more teachers for the 2024-2025 school year.

The board also discussed attendance, saying that this spring, they have had 89% of students with verified attendance and 11% with unverified.

Simpson said they’ve been having important conversations with students and the parents and guardians of students who are habitually absent.

Simpson shared that administrators at the school are required to report students to Child Protective Services after they have been absent for consecutive nine days.

For students who are habitually absent and show no interest in coming physically to school, Simpson said they have been recommending online school and GOAL Academy to those students and families.

The number of students to be accepted to the school for the upcoming school year was also discussed, with the Board deciding upon 140 students as their maximum. More and more students heading into high school, particularly from the Kiva Montessori School, have been attending SWOS for high school, the board said.

Grant funding is a major part of SWOS’ operations, and the board reviewed grants that the school is currently utilizing and has recently been awarded. This year is their last year of the ESSER grant, which awarded $280,000, as well as the last year of the EASI grant, which awarded $50,000 for a community outreach position.

They also celebrated receiving the EASI District Design and Led grant, which will award $20,000 for data analysis and $80,000 for an academic interventionist and instructional coaching for the next three years, as well as celebrating multiple other grants, including $40,000 from Coloshares and $150,000 from the Stronger Connections Grant.

The board also went over the proposed budget and calendar for the 2024-2025 school year.