After visiting 106 local classrooms, talking with 301 people and spending several days in Powell, an accreditation team gave Park County School District No. 1 a glowing review last week. “You have a wonderful community, and you’ve got a great school district,” said Steve Epperson of Illinois, lead evaluator with the AdvancED team. “I have 11 grandchildren, and I would be as pleased as could be if any one of those 11 were going to school right here.”
“I was just overwhelmed with the positive report and mainly the focus about our employees taking care of children — that’s what we’re here for,” said Kevin Mitchell, Park County School District No. 1 superintendent. Powell schools are accredited by the State Board of Education every year, and the state requires school districts to undergo an audit by an external accreditation team every five years, Mitchell said. AdvancED, an international organization, is hired by the Wyoming Department of Education to complete the audits and external reviews in school districts across the state.
The Powell school district scored higher than the AdvancED international average in every category on the organization’s Index of Education Quality. The district’s overall rating was 306.4 — 28 points higher than the international average of 278.34. The district’s emphasis on putting students first is one of its strengths, Epperson said. All students have at least one adult in their school who advocates for the student’s needs, the report said. The accreditation team also praised Powell for its utilization of resources. “Whether you believe it or not, you guys have resources like those of us from Ohio, Colorado, Illinois — we would love to have this,” he said. The Powell district effectively uses resources while still saving money in reserves, Epperson said. “We heard from a variety of sources that you do a great job with the resources you have,” he said.
The report also highlighted the Powell district’s quality school facilities. “Your facilities are beautiful; there’s no question about that,” he said, but he noted the report didn’t mention aesthetics. “People really thought out how these buildings were put together; they were designed for kids, and that’s the way it should be.”
The AdvancED team will issue its final report in about a month. The school district will then have a few years to work on the improvement priorities identified in the report. He said every school has a continuous improvement plan that is updated each year. Mitchell said Powell leaders are proud of students and staff, and he’s pleased with all the good news in the accreditation report. “It kind of affirms that we’re certainly headed in the right direction, and we’re doing pretty well at it,” he said.
KAREN KELLY, CTA EDUCATIONAL DESIGNER:
“Working with Park County School District #1 has been extremely rewarding over the several years and several education facilities that we have accomplished. Together, this forward-thinking client combined with our innovative designers provides limitless results in terms of design and functionality. The commitment to their children and their community comes through in all that we have done with them.”
CTA’s projects with Park County SD1 include Powell Middle School, Westside Elementary, and Southside Elementary: