Thompson School District braces for growth in Berthoud

By Aaron Reynolds

The Surveyor

There has been a lot of discussion over the last several months in regard to how the Thompson School District (TSD) may have to brace for dramatic cuts in its budget, including potential school closures. With that being said, one area of the district that is not forecasted to witness a reduction in its student enrollment, but rather a significant rise, is in Berthoud.

During the Feb. 21 TSD board of education meeting, members heard a brief presentation from Dr. Margaret Crespo, chief academic officer at Thompson, who explained what was recently discussed about expected growth at Berthoud High School (BHS) during a PTA meeting.

According to Crespo, about 60 members of the Berthoud community attended the event, including approximately 12 families that “demonstrated an interest in becoming champions of their community.” Crespo informed the board these “champions of the community” will serve as a subcommittee to TSD’s Master Plan Committee (MPC) in order to offer suggestions regarding enrollment capacity as well as the school maintenance backlog.

According to Crespo, among the items discussed at the Berthoud meeting was “a strong value in keeping fifth grade as long as possible in the elementary schools” as well as “keep K-5 small with the understanding that middle and high schools will have larger enrollments.” Parents also maintained they would like to see the district keep an emphasis on having technology remain “as up-to-date as possible.”

While it is not certain what grade levels a new school in Berthoud could accommodate, it has been mentioned in previous school board meetings that a new school within this community is highly likely within the next 10 years. Ivy Stockwell and Berthoud Elementary currently operate at close to full capacity, while Turner Middle School and BHS have some room for growth.

Ultimately, Crespo concluded, “The Berthoud community is growing, a lot of discussion about where exactly that growth is occurring and how some schools will be effected and others may not [will continue to be studied].”

Other subjects covered at the Feb. 21 board of education meeting included an update from the KidsPak City Wide Food Drive, designed to provide for food-insecure students within the district. The food drive created over 20,000 bags for breakfast and lunch this year. However it was noted that, while this number is impressive, it still only provided 9.4 percent of students on free or reduced-price meals with a bag for every day of the school year.

Matt Koun, executive director of innovating technology at TSD, also presented to the board an update on an “acceptable use policy” for students and staff regarding technological use such as being on the internet. According to Koun, the policy had not been updated since 2012, and “technology has evolved quite a bit” since then.

And finally, the board also briefly discussed teacher negotiations regarding the 2018-19 school year. Board members noted they support teacher raises, yet weighed doing so against an already tight budget predicted to be even tighter next year. The recent school shooting tragedy in Florida was also noted and what measures TSD is taking to “ensure secure schools.”

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