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Diversity celebrated at Animas Valley school

Board also notes BP gift, tougher graduation standards

Schuba Enlarge photo

Schuba

About 50 people attended an unusually lively meeting for Durango School District 9-R on Friday, where Lisa Schuba, principal of Animas Valley Elementary School, apprised the board of the school’s quest for International Baccalaureate authorization.

Schuba said Animas Valley is more globally minded as a result of adopting the International Baccalaureate model.

“We’ve really seen a change,” she said. “We’re celebrating our growing diversity. We have more students qualifying for free and reduced lunch, and more Spanish speaking students, which is amazing.”

Schuba said more students from poor families had enabled the Animas Valley to hire a full-time English as a second language teacher with federal funding and pointed to its backpack-lunch program, which feeds hungry students.

In terms of academics, Schuba said the state has praised Animas Valley for its student growth.

“Our only gaps are in special populations,” she said. “We’re exceeding state expectations for academic growth in math and reading. We’re only ‘approaching’ expectations in math with free- and reduced-lunch students.”

In other action:

Superintendent Dan Snowberger presented board member Julie Levy, who is a spokeswoman for BP, a plaque honoring BP for its $116,000 donation supporting Durango Discovery Museum and Durango Nature Studies to advance science, technology, engineering and math education.

BP’s donation comes on the heels of another grant from the Katz Family Foundation for $150,000, which among other things will support district schools seeking International Baccalaureate certification, enable teachers to develop better models of student assessment, and underwrite El Diablo, Durango High School’s student newspaper.

The board discussed National Clearinghouse Data, which showed the number of Durango High School students enrolled in college the first year after graduating exceeded the state average.

In 2004, only 58 percent of DHS graduates went on to college, whereas in 2010, 73 percent enrolled in college.

Snowberger told the board only 64 students out of 264 who graduated in 2012 would have met tougher graduation standards that the board is aiming for. The new standards would set a goal for students to score 21 or higher on the ACT college entrance exam, maintain a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher, and successfully complete two or more advanced-placement classes or the equivalent.

“Remember, we’ve set high bars. We’re exceeding the state average. But that’s not necessarily good enough for us,” Snowberger said.

cmcallister@durangoherald.com

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