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Rotary receives an update on SVVSD

“The 33,000 will continue to grow until we get to about 75,000,” Haddad said. 
SVVSD Admin (3 of 3)
SVVSD administration building

A new school year is quickly approaching and members of the community are curious about what is happening within the St. Vrain Valley School District. Superintendent Don Haddad spoke with a room full of Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Longmont on Tuesday to share some insight.

SVVSD is the seventh largest school district in the state of Colorado, up from tenth when Haddad began his SVVSD career, 23 years ago. The district hosts over 33,000 students from Lyons, Mead, Erie, Longmont, Frederick, Firestone, Niwot and Dacono. 

The district has continued to grow which differs from the trends seen in neighboring school districts which have lost thousands of students over the years. 

“The 33,000 will continue to grow until we get to about 75,000,” Haddad said. 

All 28 of the district’s elementary schools include a preschool program. Although Colorado is rolling out its Universal Preschool program this fall, SVVSD’s program has been in place for over 15 years, Haddad said. 

“We are glad to see others coming onboard because that early-childhood education start is really, really important,” he said, adding preschoolers in SVVSD learn the same basic design-thinking skills that are utilized throughout their education career.

At the high school level, all of SVVSD high schools offer over 20 Advanced Placement courses to students. Lyons is the exception because it offers around eight Advanced Placement courses which are consistent with its population size, Haddad said. 

The district requires 24.5 high school credits to graduate, more than neighboring districts. It also requires students to take more math, science and language arts courses than other districts. In the 2022-23 school year graduation rates increased to nearly 94% with a 90% graduation rate for Hispanic students.

Haddad also spoke of how the national school system has stagnated. This was more apparent than ever in 2020 when the pandemic hit, forcing schools to close and students to learn at home. Many school districts across the country were able to provide quality education to students during the pandemic due to these technological limitations. Meanwhile, the iPhone was invented in 2007 along with many other technological advances, yet schools were unable to teach students anywhere but in the classroom.

SVVSD has been working to advance legislation to change the accountability system for schools. The current system looks at standardized testing and ranks schools from test scores. Haddad argues that the accountability system is flawed because it doesn’t look at what the schools offer students as far as an education, it doesn’t allow students to take the test in a language other than English and students can opt out of testing.

“Why does it make a difference for us? The reasons are obvious … it is because that affects our economy. If kids don’t graduate from high school they become a drag on the economy and a drag on themselves. It affects public safety, if kids don’t graduate they’re much more likely to get into trouble and experience incarceration. The values of our homes and our businesses are all tied closely to the quality of our schools,” Haddad said.