Snow days, high school start times and mental health support were just a few of the topics parents asked questions about during the second annual “Ask the Superintendent” event, held Feb. 10 at the Student Achievement Resource Center (SARC).
Sponsored by Parents’ Council, “Ask the Superintendent” gives parents the opportunity to get firsthand information from Dr. Harry Bull, superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools.
Dr. Bull started the session by thanking the Cherry Creek Schools Board of Education for their diligence in considering an updated charter school application from Heritage Heights Academy. At its regular meeting on Feb. 8, the board approved the updated application with conditions, giving Heritage Heights the opportunity to correct deficiencies in its application.
“Our board wants to ensure that the school will provide great learning opportunities for children,” Bull said.
Next the superintendent addressed the issue of snow days. Three snow days have been called so far this year, with Colorado’s snowiest month still to come. Bull explained that, generally, two snow days are built into the district calendar, but because every school’s calendar is slightly different, some schools are closer to the limit than others. If more snow days occur this year, Bull said some adjustments might need to be made to ensure students get the required amount of instructional time.
“But I will not compromise the safety of our students to save a day,” Bull said.
For the fourth time in ten years, the district is examining the issue of high school start times. Bull acknowledged that research shows high school students learn better with a later school start time, while elementary school students are ready to learn earlier.
“But starting elementary school earlier means young children will at the bus stop in the dark during the winter months and that concerns me,” Bull said.
He told the audience that the district will present options to the community later this year, in order to gauge the community’s tolerance for different start time scenarios.
Bull was also asked about the district’s efforts to meet students’ mental health needs. He explained that the district has increased mental health staffing each of the past three years, and now has a full-time mental health staff member in every elementary school, in addition to those at the middle and high schools.
“We’ve worked really hard to recognize the mental health need and marshal the resources to meet that need,” Bull said.
The next Parents’ Council meeting is Wed., March 10 at SARC, located at 14188 E. Briarwood Avenue in Centennial. For more information about Parents’ Council, visit www.ccparentscouncil.org.