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SVVSD board member announces new vision for statewide network

Richard Martyr, member of the St. Vrain Valley School District board of education, presented an update about changes to CASB’s leadership and work for the next five years during yesterday’s board meeting.
Richard Martyr, member of the St. Vrain Valley School District board of education and president-elect of the Colorado Association of School Boards | Screen grab of SVVSD's board meeting on Apr. 28, 2021

School boards across the state are looking to the future with the help of the Colorado Association of School Boards, or CASB, led by a member of the St. Vrain Valley School District board of education, Richard Martyr.

Martyr presented an update about changes to CASB’s leadership and work for the next five years during yesterday’s board meeting.

Martyr was elected to the CASB board of directors in 2017, selected to join its executive committee a year later and most recently selected as president-elect to begin his term as president in December, he said. 

Established over eight decades ago, CASB is in the process of rethinking its role as a network of professionals in the public education system to become more effective, according to Martyr, by stepping onto a more proactive leadership role.

“The mantra has been more aligned with ‘do no harm or minimize harm that might be done’ rather than focused on the good that we could accomplish,” he said.

Historically, the role of the association has been to provide professional development and policy support for local school districts’ boards of education while staying reactive to legislative proposals at the state and federal levels, he said. 

“There’s growing support among board members for CASB to leverage its standing as a leading voice within Colorado’s education community to (become) a proactive leader, first developing a transforming vision … for Colorado’s (public education) system that is designed from its foundation to provide equitable education outcomes for each and every student,” he said. 

CASB’s current work also involves an initiative to help recruit and train candidates and help the local board identify people who might be interested in board services as well as equipping those members to become effective once selected, Martyr said. 

“I do believe that of the professional organizations that (are) the traditional advocates for public education in the state of Colorado, CASB is the one that has, in my view, the greatest potential to make the biggest difference,” he said. “We … are an association that represents school boards who have no extra grind, no mission other than doing what’s best for each and every student throughout the state.

This year, more than 880,000 PreK-12 students attended one of the 1,900 public schools in the state of Colorado, according to Martyr.

Eight percent of the state’s districts enroll 67% of the students in the state with two-thirds of them concentrated in the largest school districts, including SVVSD, which is ranked as the seventh largest district in Colorado and one of the few districts that are still growing, he said. 

“Times of disruptions are also times when greatest change is possible so we’re looking to move in that direction,” he said. “The presence of a board member on CASB board from this board has been largely supported by members of districts throughout the state because of the accomplishments of this district.”

SVVSD has achieved performance beyond expectations year after year showing a consistent commitment to excellence that continues to push “the frontier of public education,” he said  

“St. Vrain is influencing not only what’s happening in our district but what is happening in districts large and small throughout the state,” he said, adding others are following the examples that are being set locally. 

Superintendent Don Haddad said CASB has the clout and level of influence to be a primary voice, to respond to the needs of the 21st century appropriately.

“We saw this world change dramatically back in 2008, where technology is concerned, there is no explanation that would suffice that could explain why we as a public education system did not have the wherewithal to respond to COVID,” he said. “We did not take the step as an institution to move forward into the next level of society.”

The changes COVID has forced into our society, locally and nationally, offer an opportunity for the public education system to keep moving forward, Haddad said. 

“We have to get the right voices at the table because people will hold on to the status quo as tightly as they can until leadership steps in,” he said. “It would be really disappointing if we move out another three years and we look back and we say gosh we survived COVID but we did not leverage this opportunity.” 

Silvia Romero Solís

About the Author: Silvia Romero Solís

Después de viajar por el mundo, Silvia llegó a establecerse en Longmont. Ella busca usar su experiencia en comunicaciones y cultura para crear más equidad y diversidad en las noticias de Longmont.
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