Exemplary Districts and Schools – Durango, CO
Durango School District
Coordinating a Comprehensive Approach to Healthier Schools
The Durango School District has one of the most comprehensive and coordinated health and wellness policies in the state of Colorado.
Work began in 2004 with the help of a planning grant from the Colorado Department of Education. The district used the funding to assess its strengths and weaknesses, and then developed a districtwide plan that covers wellness, nutrition and physical activity. “When we started to look at what was being done in our schools, we knew we could do better,” says Jaynee Fontecchio-Spradling, the district’s former health coordinator.
Now, each of the district’s 11 schools follows a coordinated school health model. Teams at each school oversee and evaluate the progress of school-based health and wellness plans.
Districtwide changes were implemented too. Stimulant drinks and candy were banned from elementary school vending machines. At the high school level, all sodas and high-fat, sugary snacks were eliminated. School fundraisers offer only healthy options or nonfood items. Every school also has a salad bar, and six of the 11 schools harvest their own vegetables from their school gardens. The district even has developed an entire curriculum focused on helping students learn about locally grown food.
Much has been done to improve physical activity in the classroom, too — while kids are learning. Teachers have “boogie buttons” on their desks. When students need a break or seem to be losing concentration, the teacher hits the button and the kids boogie dance for 30 seconds.
“We have very little funding for these efforts now that the grant has ended, but we are supporting them regardless because we know it works with kids,” says Fontecchio-Spradling. “My advice to other districts would be to persevere. It’s a long-term process and leadership must be committed. The results are well worth it!”
For more information, contact Victor Figueroa, Assistant Superintendent of Student Achievement, 970-247-5411 , ext. 1454, email@example.com.
The Colorado Legacy Foundation believes that increased student achievement for all Colorado students requires effective leaders in every school, effective educators in every classroom, and healthy and engaging environments that ignite a passion for learning in every student.