“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go farther, go together.”
- African Proverb
My first two months in D38 have afforded me multiple opportunities to get to know many of our students, staff, parents, and community partners. As I listen and learn from these interactions, I am inspired by the passion, commitment, and concern that we share in providing a quality education for all our students. While seeking to understand the hopes, dreams, and challenges within D38, I am frequently asked my thoughts and opinions about the same.
My primary focus as the “Chief Educational Officer” is to strive for the most optimal learning experiences and environments and continually ask, “what’s best for our kids?” While our team of teachers, administrators, and support staff do a remarkable job of providing optimal educational experiences for our students, they do encounter barriers. Numerous staff have shared that large class sizes make meeting the individualized learning needs of students difficult at times. Administrators share that they frequently run into programming challenges due to a lack of adequate learning space. As we face difficult decisions and competing priorities, we work together to find solutions.
These challenges do not have easy fixes; however, there is an option for the community to consider. At its Aug. 26 meeting, the D38 Board of Education voted 5-0 to place a bond issue on the upcoming November ballot to address the area’s continued growth. This $28.985 million single purpose bond asks area voters to fund a new elementary school in Jackson Creek, west of Bear Creek Elementary School, on D38 land. This would enable D38 to convert Bear Creek Elementary back to its original purpose of serving as a middle school (grades 6-8). You may find additional facts regarding this bond at lewispalmer.org/2019bond.
When considering future growth projections, it is interesting to note that D38 has experienced 11% enrollment growth over the past five years and 18% over the past 10 years. This past growth is consistent with Metrostudy’s projected additional student enrollment numbers for the next five (almost 700 students) and 10 (over 1,500 students) years (see April Board meeting minutes BoardDocs). While it is easy to admire our numbers and data, what I see are the faces and experiences of our children. I believe we must ask ourselves collectively, as a community, what we are willing to invest to afford every child the quality education he or she deserves.
While this conversation yields differing views about facilities usage, our D38 team will continue providing world-class educational experiences for every student in our care. We will continue building strong partnerships with our families, businesses, and other organizations to benefit successful futures for our students. We will continue investing in our youth for the betterment of our area, our state, our country, and our world. We will persevere and stay relentlessly focused on what’s most important now — our students — their safety, well-being, and education.
Dr. KC Somers is superintendent of Lewis-Palmer School District 38.