Change is a constant at Evergreen schools. As the new year approaches, parents and students should be aware of what will be new and different at their schools. Following is a sampling of some of the change happening this month.
Jeffco Schools policy changes
At the Jefferson County district level, three new policies will affect parents and students.
First, Jeffco has implemented a new parent notification system called SchoolMessenger. With the system, the district will be able to send information via phone, e-mail and text messages about, for example, emergency situations and school cancellations. The system also will be used to contact parents about attendance, test dates and school activities.
The new system from Reliance Communications is expected to save the district about $187,000 over the previous system.
During registration, parents will review their emergency contact information and designate how they prefer to be contacted with school messages.
Second, Jeffco schools will be offering healthier beverage choices to students in compliance with a bill that passed the state Legislature. The bill says that any beverages sold to students on school grounds must meet health standards. In essence, no soda or sugary drinks will be sold.
School-related events such as school plays, concerts and sporting events are exempt from these rules because adults are present.
Available at elementary and middle schools will be bottled water, fat-free or low-fat milk, and 100 percent juice.
At the high school level, add to the list low-calorie beverages such as unsweetened teas, low calorie sports drinks, fitness waters and flavored waters. No diet soda will be sold. At least 50 percent of non-milk beverages sold must be water and no or low calorie options.
Third, the district has gone green in terms of cleaning products, which will save the district about $130,000 a year. In addition, paper supplies are recyclable and paper dispensers are now manual, so they don’t use batteries.
Evergreen Academy is a victim of the national economic slump.
The Christian-based private school in Marshdale is suspending its elementary school program this fall because of low enrollments in kindergarten through grade 5. The school canceled its middle school program in January because of low enrollment.
The school will provide childcare for infants ages 6 weeks to 18 months, toddlers ages 12 months and walking through 36 months, and preschoolers ages 3-5.
“Preschool is where we started 20 years ago,” said the school’s director Chris Lierheimer. “We’re back to where we started. It’s sad to lose something you worked on for half your life, but we’re providing an important service.”
He’s hoping to rebuild the program in the fall of 2010 with a kindergarten class.
“We just got hammered last fall” with families leaving the school because they couldn’t afford tuition, Lierheimer said. “There was a line of people at my door who had lost a job or who were afraid they were going to lose their job. They just couldn’t pay for anything they didn’t absolutely need.”
The infant childcare is new for Evergreen Academy, and it’s one of the few child-care facilities in the Evergreen-Conifer area that is licensed by the state of Colorado to take children as young at 6 weeks old.
Contact the school at 303-670-1721.
Evergreen High School
The school day is changing for Evergreen High School students. Students now will have seven-period days plus a 35-minute teacher access time at the beginning of the day.
Last year, students had six class periods plus teacher-access time.
While the teacher-access period is no longer mandatory, it is strongly advised, according to principal Matt Walsh. “I don’t want to say that access is optional,” Walsh said. “It’s important for students because teachers are here and available. Students can get extra help, get their make-up work if they’ve missed class and get tutoring.”
Last year, the teacher-access time was a mandatory study hall for freshmen, and the freshman class as a whole had the highest gradepoint average of freshman classes in the last five years, Walsh said.
That could be why Evergreen High School was ranked 359th in Newsweek magazine’s list of the top public high schools in the United States. Walsh said there are 26,400 public high schools, and EHS ranks in the top 1.3 percent. He’s very pleased with the ranking.
When students come to school in a couple weeks, they will find that some teachers have changed classrooms in an effort to better students’ education.
“It was time to mix things up,” said Walsh, who is in his third year as EHS principal. For example, “we put teachers who teach primarily ninth grade in a central area, so they can share ideas across the curriculum.”
The goal is to go beyond looking at how many students are proficient in a subject area, he said. “We are looking at where kids are struggling and help all of them achieve to their highest level.”
Bergen Meadow Elementary School
Lunchtime at Bergen Meadow Elementary School is getting a little longer this year.
Each grade level now will have a full hour for lunch and recess, so students are not so rushed eating their lunch, have plenty of time to wash their hands and have some play time.
Bergen Meadow and Evergreen Middle School now share a sidewalk between the two buildings so students can safely walk along Hiwan Drive.
NEAT — North Evergreen Activity Trails — obtained a grant last year to complete the work. The area along Hiwan Drive between the two schools was a safety concern because there was little shoulder along the road. Now the sidewalk gives students a safe place to walk.
Evergreen Middle School
The eighth-grade wing of Evergreen Middle School was renovated over the summer into eight large classrooms.
This is the second phase of a remodeling project that was approved by voters in a 2004 bond issue. In addition to the classrooms, new bathrooms, work rooms and an office were put into the area on the southeast side of the building.
The school is planning a dedication ceremony from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30, with students, teachers, staff, district administrators and school board members attending.
The school has also installed a new security system, so when adults visit the school, they will present their driver’s license. The system will print out a pass with the adult’s photograph and destination.
“There won’t be an adult in the school who isn’t wearing a Jeffco Schools ID or have one of these passes on,” said principal Kristopher Schuh.
Marshdale Elementary School
Thanks to a $45,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant, Marshdale will get a new playground.
The grant application was put together by the school in cooperation with the Evergreen Park and Recreation District. The Marshdale PTA also has put in $15,000 in in-kind services.
The project has been put out for bids, and principal Christy Frost hopes the new equipment will be installed in October.
Parmalee Elementary School
Full-day kindergarten is coming to Parmalee Elementary School this fall.
In the past, the school has offered half-day kindergarten. The all-day kindergarten provides flexibility for parents.