by Peter Grady –
District 6 announced a shocking bit of news Monday evening when it was revealed that the educational program under Superintendent Ranelle Lang has resulted in the Greeley-Evans school district being dropped to one step from the bottom of the state accreditation list.
At Monday’s board meeting it was revealed that seven years after the district was removed from “academic watch” by the Colorado Department of Education for poor performance, the district has dropped to the “priority improvement” category.
The state has five levels of accreditation for all schools in the state, accredited with distinction, accredited, accredited with improvement plan, accredited with priority improvement plan and accredited with turnaround plan.
At the meeting board members were asked to vote on an improvement plan to help turn the scores around, despite being given almost no notice to review the details. At the meeting board member Logan Richardson expressed concern saying the first time he had seen the improvement plan was Monday evening.
Scott Rankin said that board members had received information about the plan in their packets late last week, however he echoed Richardson’s concerns about the lack of time to review the material.
The board was told by District officials that they needed to approve the plan at Monday’s meeting because the deadline for submitting the plan to state officials was January 15, the day after the meeting.
The new designation means the district now has five years to get out of the priority improvement category or face possible sanctions from the state which could include chartering the entire district.
The low scores are particularly troublesome for parents of district 6 students when one considers that Lang is married to current Colorado Commissioner of Education member Robert Hammond.
Former board member Brett Reese said the dismal scores are a legacy from the previous board and the blame should be laid squarely at Lang’s feet.
“Ranelle Lang gets over $300,000 to lead this district. If this was a business that had these kinds of dismal figures, the board would demand the CEO resign immediately,” Reese said. “If Lang is going to take the large salary and all the perks that come along with it, then it is perfectly reasonable to expect her to take responsibility for the district’s failures as well. Under her watch district scores have plummeted to where we are nearly exactly where we were ten years ago.”
While on the board, Reese continuously championed for educational reform and attempted to convince fellow board members to think outside the box. Reese is a successful businessman in Greeley, owning several radio stations and is involved in the real estate market.
Among the proposals he suggested was to allow the board to hear a presentation from a representative from Apple regarding the possibility of the computer giant providing free laptops to each student. The motion to hear the presentation which would not have had any strings attached failed to get enough support to bring it to a vote.
During Monday’s meeting, board member Judy Kron offered her resignation, citing not having enough time to devote to both the board and the District 6 Success Foundation, which raises funds for the District.
Last year, Kron admitted the previous board, of which she was a part was also to blame for the low performance of schools in the District. At a meeting in August, Kron said, “It is time we as a board finally admit that we own these scores.”
Kron also admitted the board has a trust issue with the community. “Frankly, there are a lot of people in the district who just don’t trust us.”