The climate and culture study commissioned by the Aspen School District is underway, with a late March deadline scheduled for the first phase, the board of education learned Monday during its regular meeting.
An advisory committee comprising 10 to 12 people, plus a facilitator, is expected to be named later this week, after an initial meeting Jan. 30 that involved consultant Liz Wilson, owner of Wilson Foxen Change Leadership and some staff, according to board president Dwayne Romero.
The committee’s composition will be “a cross-functional, cross-level combination of individuals,” according to a post on the school’s website. Susan Marolt and Sandra Peirce are the board’s liaisons for this project.
Romero said it’s important that the study “stay on pace” but acknowledged the volumes of material — some of which has already been produced in the form of studies by the District Accountability Committee, and others in forthcoming one-on-one interviews with district employees and community members — that will need to be considered.
“My view is that we have to do a good job to get a snapshot that’s clear and complete,” Romero said.
Parent Anna Zane reminded the board Monday that the longer the study takes, the more money it will cost taxpayers.
Between $10,000 and $12,000, plus travel expenses, has been budgeted for this phase. Wilson Foxen’s nonprofit rate is $150 per hour to conduct interviews. The initial contract shared by the district priced out 20 interviews, which would cost $3,750, and 40 interviews at $7,500.
Anonymity in interviews is assured, according to those commissioning the survey. A school climate in which allegedly there was fear of reprisal for speaking out was a tool that led to the climate survey.
“Private conversations with Liz Wilson, the consultant, will be kept confidential. Individual survey data and/or existing data shared with Liz will not be linked to any one individual. Wilson Foxen, Inc., not the Aspen School District, will analyze the data that is collected. Specific information about who makes specific comments in focus groups will [also] not be included in the final report,” according to the information sheet.
Unresolved issues came to the forefront through a parent action committee that formed last year to decry poor leadership over the handling of a matter involving district human resources director Elizabeth Hodges. She resigned without severance pay in January.
In late October, the school board declined to renew Superintendent John Maloy’s rolling three-year contract beyond June 30, 2021.