A is for Adaptability: How Pueblo Schools Earn Top Scores

Pueblo schools pivot to serve students during COVID-19 pandemic with remote learning and plan for continued growth.

By
Jessica Walker Boehm
On Sunday, April 18, 2021 - 14:39
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Pueblo is helping grow the next generation of leaders by providing high-quality education and a bounty of resources for both students and parents.

The city is accomplishing this through two public school districts and GOAL High School, a Pueblo-based free blended online charter school that serves students across the state.

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Pueblo D60

Pueblo Schools Pivot During Pandemic

In March 2020, Pueblo School District 60 (D60) and Pueblo County School District 70 (D70) shifted to virtual learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic – and to say they were successful in rising to meet the challenge would be a huge understatement.

For example, at the onset of the pandemic, D60 purchased technology devices to ensure their more than 16,000 students could learn at home. Each kindergartener and first-grader received an iPad, and all other students received Chromebook laptop-style computers.

"D60 works closely with other school districts to ensure we are always following best practices in light of the everchanging landscape COVID-19 has created," says Dalton Sprouse, director of communications for D60. "We are always working to provide the best learning experience possible for our students and choose to see the challenges COVID-19 has presented as an opportunity to enhance our instruction delivery."

D70, the largest geographical district in Colorado, implemented a learning management system called Schoology to help its more than 8,000 students learn remotely, and the district has collaborated with D60 and various local organizations to help provide child care and educational support through the Fair Care Learning Shelter Program.

"A partnership between local agencies has developed Fair Care, which is an emergency learning shelter pod program supported by D60 and D70, along with help from the city and county governments, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Pueblo County and the YMCA of Pueblo," says Todd Seip, public information officer for D70. "More than 120 K-5 students whose parents work as first responders or essential personnel can be dropped off at one of the Fair Care sites daily and continue their remote learning under the watchful eyes of district substitute teachers."

"We are always working to provide the best learning experience possible for our students and choose to see the challenges COVID-19 has presented as an opportunity to enhance our instruction delivery." 

Dalton Sprouse, director of communications for D60

Although GOAL High School students were already accustomed to learning remotely prior to COVID-19, they were also used to having access to student drop-in centers to receive in-person tutoring from academic coaches. When these facilities were required to close their doors due to the pandemic, GOAL High School took quick action to ensure students were still receiving the assistance they needed.

"Our student drop-in centers are very important to the GOAL High School experience, so when they had to close due to stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, our academic coaches took extra care to serve as front line support from afar," says Gunny Pagnotta, communications coordinator for GOAL High School, which was recognized as a Microsoft Showcase School for the second consecutive year in 2020.

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Jeff Adkins

Exciting Educational Additions

The future looks bright for Pueblo's educational landscape, with several new facilities and updated resources coming soon.

A $218 million bond will help upgrade D60's existing schools and build two new high schools to replace Centennial High School and East High School.

In addition, D60 applied for and was awarded two Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grants through the Colorado Department of Education that will allow the district to build two new elementary schools to replace Sunset Park Elementary School and Franklin School of Innovation.

In D70, a $75 million bond will be used to fund several upgrades for each of the district's schools, including new roofs, new parent drop-off and pick-up areas, repaved parking lots, new HVAC filtration systems and enhanced security measures. 

GOAL High School, which currently serves approximately 5,300 students in grades 9-12 statewide, is continuing to grow and plans to expand its career and technical education curriculum by adding a variety of courses, such as Principles of Engineering & Tech; Introduction to Entrepreneurship; Principles of Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security; and Sports and Entertainment Marketing.

If you'd like to learn more about the Pueblo, CO area, check out the latest edition of Livability Pueblo, CO

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica Walker Boehm is a journalism graduate of Belmont University and has been a regular contributor to Livability.com since 2010.