A glimpse of the future came into focus Tuesday night for Durango School District 9-R.
The school board received an update on a computer system aimed at better management and coordination of teaching and learning and another update on future building needs as Durango continues to grow.
A committee of 30 has chosen a computer system, Its Learning, as the learning management system for the district. The system will provide a one-stop spot for teachers’ development of lesson plans, homework assignments, tracking of attendance and assessments of students’ learning.
Separate portals would provide entry to students, parents and teachers.
“We’ve been asked for this for the last 12 years now because teachers have so many systems they have to deal with,” said Jackie Oros, chief student services officer for 9-R.
A hands-on demonstration of the system, which may be in place as soon as the next school year, will be held Feb. 21 in the 9-R Administration Building with the committee that selected Its Learning and additional teachers.
Several board members cautioned that proper introduction and training would be crucial to ensure that full use of the system is achieved and teachers are comfortable using it.
“I have seen a lot of great systems,” School Board President Nancy Stubbs said. “But they have been killed by the rollout. The human element wasn’t emphasized enough.”
School board member Joe Kusar said the introduction of a new system is akin to the opportunities and pitfalls of technology introductions he has seen in the banking industry. He suggested the district query other school districts using Its Learning to get a better handle on the problems and glitches they had in bringing the system online.
Leanne Garcia, director of curriculum and assessment, offered reassurance to board members that the committee found Its Learning system to be the most flexible system on the market, and it was judged best in its ability to be tailored to meet the learning philosophies and practices of the district.
Board member Stephanie Moran also noted system functionality and ease of use has to work for all.
“Parents will complain if they don’t understand it,” she said. “I’m trying to make sure it works for everybody.
Beyond technological change, 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger provided a view of some anticipated, long-range needs for new schools and some possible re-purposing and moving of existing schools to meet demands as Durango and La Plata County grow.
Snowberger said the district is currently looking to form a 20-member community advisory committee to help steer the district on future building, remodeling, re-purposing and moving of schools. Especially wanted from the community are parents and representatives from the city, county and banking sector.
The need for new elementary schools and the expansion of existing schools was mentioned as was the need for another middle school, which likely would be located in Three Springs.
Florida Mesa Elementary, he said, is the building in greatest need of renovation and improvement.
An array of different possibilities, likely to come to fruition years down the road, were presented. Snowberger even mentioned the district is considering trading or selling a 70-acre lot too distant from Durango for use as a school and working with the Bureau of Land Management for a possible site of a new high school closer to town.