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CO: Collaborating on community services in Sheridan

Sheridan School District #2 is a small district (1,900 students) tucked inside metropolitan Denver's southwest corner. "It is somewhat rural," said board president Judy Scott. "You could pick up Sheridan and plop it on the plains, and it would fit right in.

"It’s low, socioeconomically. We have a lot of people with no transportation, no insurance," Scott said. Often people will call the school district to solve a problem that the city could solve. And vice versa.

With some initial community engagement training from CASB and its own twist on community conversations, the Sheridan board launched a partnership with its city council and now monthly hosts a "Can-do" group. Businesspeople, mental health workers, school officials, and others wrestle with common problems and how best to address them. Out of such discussions, for instance, a school-based clinic was created in partnership with Children's Hospital.

Sheridan has also created five "sounding boards"—groups of parents, students, business, senior citizens and staff—to explore particular issues. A board member is assigned to each group.

They've tackled topics from discipline and school uniforms to restructuring two elementary schools because of declining enrollment. From such conversations, for instance, board members heard advice and feedback that ultimately led them to set aside one building for K-2, and put grades 3-5 in the other, which concentrated reading resources more effectively.

"Community engagement has made a difference," says Scott. "You win the trust of people when you listen to them—and sometimes come up with ideas!"

Jane Urschel, Ph.D.
Associate Executive Director
Colorado Association of School Boards
1200 Grant Street
Denver, Colorado 80203-2306
(30... or (80...

Jennifer Reeve
Director of Communications
(30... or (80...

Posted: August 30, 2006

©2006 Center for Public Education

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Home > Success stories > Community involvement > CO: Collaborating on community services in Sheridan