Superintendent's Page


    students building a snow fort LETTER FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT

    澳门乐赢网址Dear Blaine County Neighbors,

    澳门乐赢网址We live in snow country! I love the cold air and the beautiful landscapes of winter. I even love the quiet early-morning drives after a snowstorm to determine if we can safely hold school.

    When we experience heavy snow or very cold weather, the key question is whether we can get students to school safely on the buses. On these mornings, there are at least three administrators (I am one of them) driving the roads from Carey to Ketchum to see if the plowing crews are keeping pace with the snowfall. Others on our team are gathering advice from county and city road crews. Can our buses navigate the snowy or icy roads? Will school sidewalks and parking lots be clear of snow in time for the arrival of students and staff? (Our Buildings and Grounds crews and custodians are also early risers, working diligently to clear sidewalks around our schools.) 

    In addition to doing these pre-dawn road assessments, we are constantly checking what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ()澳门乐赢网址 has to say about wind chill and additional snow we can expect as we move through the school day. 

    澳门乐赢网址While we need to ensure that the buses can get students safely to school, we must also consider the safety of our students as they stand outside in the cold, waiting for the bus. If wind chill is significant, frostbite can occur within a very short period of time.

    Decisions about school closures must be made by 5:30 a.m. at the latest so we can share information with staff and parents and avoid having buses on the roads unnecessarily. We inform the community of school closures and/or late starts as early as possible through Skylert, a system that sends alerts via text, phone and email, as well as through our district website, social media, and local media.

    If bad weather continues throughout the day, we consider canceling after-school activities. However, we seldom cancel school once classes are already in session, as sending young students home to empty and possibly locked houses is too great a risk.

    澳门乐赢网址On snowy mornings when we decide to keep our schools open, we often receive emails and calls from students or parents saying it is unsafe to drive. If you are uncomfortable driving to school that day, you have the option of staying home or taking a bus. In addition, school secretaries and the District Office receive a host of calls on these mornings asking if school will be open or closed. We are always happy to help families and students get the information they need.

    On rare occasions, some people take out their frustration about school closures and disrupted routines by communicating rudely with District staff or posting disrespectful comments on social media. Please remember that each BCSD staff member is a caring individual doing their very best every day to serve our students and ensure their safety. Whether you call our offices or post on the District’s Facebook page, please be kind and keep it civil. 

    Any superintendent will tell you that there is no easy answer on whether to hold school or close school on a snowy day. There are many factors to consider, and the weather can vary greatly from Carey to Ketchum. However, the BCSD team who are out on the roads and monitoring NOAA will always make the best-informed decision possible to keep our students safe. 

    We are thankful for the incredible work done by county and city road crews to help us safely navigate our snowy days. We also appreciate the extra precautions our families take in getting their children to school in bad weather. And, more than anything, we value the incredible work our staff do each day to serve our students and families.

    With gratitude,

    GwenCarol Holmes


    students working on labo projects Keep Reading for More Letters from the Superintendent

    November 2019

    Letter from Superintendent Holmes

    澳门乐赢网址One of the United States’ greatest gifts to the world is the idea of free public education. Ours was the first country to grasp a vision of free public education for all, rather than just for those who could afford such a luxury as a function of their birth. Horace Mann was one of many early educational reformers to recognize the importance of public education for developing a strong citizenry and country.

    Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of social machinery.    Horace Mann

    澳门乐赢网址From those early days through the present, however, we have grappled with the question of who is included in the ALL. Over the course of our nation’s history, we have continued to refine the definition — from Horace Mann’s time, when ALL was defined as white males; to Brown vs. Board of Education (1954), a landmark Supreme Court decision that ended racial segregation in public schools; to Lau vs. Nichols (1974), a Supreme Court decision requiring schools receiving federal funds to provide non-English-speaking students with supplemental instruction in English; to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (1990), which ensures that all students with a disability are provided with an education tailored to their individual needs and equal to that of children without a disability. Even today, public schools continue to pull more children into the fold. Here in BCSD, we continuously reach out to gather ALL children into our arms.

    澳门乐赢网址I am so proud of the work happening in our schools. Each day we welcome children from a wide variety of backgrounds who speak an ever-growing number of languages, children who have experienced trauma and crisis, children who are overcoming disabilities, and children who live in poverty. We gather these children into our local public education system and work relentlessly to ensure we are educating ALL students to the highest level.

    As educator and author Dr. Luis Cruz says, we are “in the business of working to redesign a public school system never designed for the benefit of many of the students currently in our schools.” Every day in BCSD, we celebrate a victory as another student masters the grade-level standards for the first time. Every day we are proving that we can redesign the system so that ALL truly means ALL.

    澳门乐赢网址Blaine County School District is blessed to have an incredibly dedicated staff working to ensure that ALL students are educated to a high level and mastering Idaho Content Standards. As we count our blessings during this season of thanksgiving, I am giving thanks for our BCSD employees, who are redesigning our schools to the benefit of ALL students.

    Pictured above right: Students at Alturas Elementary in the Engineering Technology Class.


    Dr. Holmes and parent at Mt. Bike race September 2019


    Dear Parents and Community Members, 

    We’ve had a great start to the school year!  Thank you for being part of your child’s education in the Blaine County School District.  Mastering the rigorous Idaho Content Standards in literacy and mathematics is the right of every child in Idaho.   It takes the teamwork of students, educators and parents to make it happen.  

    When my children were school age, I sent them to school each day wanting them to receive the best education possible so that they could choose whatever life work was inspiring and fulfilling to them.  I wanted them to have a better education than I had.  

    澳门乐赢网址Every child needs an adult that advocates for and encourages them to get the best education possible.  As a child, the adult that advocated for me was my grandmother. She only had three years of school and all of it had been in Low German (Plattdeutsch).  However, she understood the power of a good education and insisted that both of her sons were educated and her grandchildren were highly educated.  

    澳门乐赢网址Thank you for supporting your child in their education.  Each morning you ensure they are in school, well-rested, and ready to learn.  Each day after school, you ask them about their day: What are they learning? Why are they learning a particular subject? What homework or projects do they have? Your daily commitment to and interest in their education is powerful.  Thank you for being our partner. 

    澳门乐赢网址With gratitude, 

    GwenCarol Holmes, Ed.D. , Superintendent

    PS - Congratulations to all the parents and students who competed in the Galena Gallop!  It was an impressive feat of organization and great to see the teamwork that made it all happen. Thanks to the parent who took this photo during the race.  Pictured left to right: parent of WRHS alumnus, Danni Dean and Superintendent Holmes


    Estimados padres:

    ¡Hemos tenido un gran comienzo del año escolar!  Gracias por formar parte de la educación de su hijo en el Distrito Escolar del Condado de Blaine.  Dominar los rigurosos estándares de contenido de Idaho en alfabetización y matemáticas es un derecho de todos los niños en Idaho. Se requiere del trabajo en equipo de estudiantes, educadores y padres para que esto suceda.

    Cuando mis hijos estaban en edad escolar, los enviaba a la escuela todos los días deseando que recibieran la mejor educación posible para que pudieran elegir cualquier trabajo en la vida que les inspirara y les diera satisfacción.  Quería que tuvieran una mejor educación que yo.

    Todos los niños necesitan un adulto que abogue por ellos y los aliente a conseguir la mejor educación posible.  Cuando era niña, el adulto que abogó por mí fue mi abuela. Ella solo tuvo tres años de escuela y todos los cursó en el idioma bajo alemán (Plattdeutsch).  Sin embargo, ella comprendía el poder de una buena educación e insistió en que sus dos hijos tuvieran educación y en que sus nietos tuvieran el más alto nivel de educación.

    澳门乐赢网址Gracias por apoyar a su hijo en su educación.  Cada mañana ustedes se aseguran de que ellos estén en la escuela, bien descansados ​​y listos para aprender.  A diario, después de la escuela, les preguntan sobre su día: ¿Qué están aprendiendo? ¿Por qué están aprendiendo un tema en particular? ¿Qué tarea o proyectos tienen?  Su compromiso diario e interés en su educación tiene poder. Gracias por ser nuestros compañeros de equipo.

    澳门乐赢网址Con gratitud,

    Dra. en Educ. GwenCarol Holmes



    September 2018 


    A recent from the Idaho Mt. Express recognized the proficiency gap among our students in Blaine County. The District has been tracking this issue carefully for several years and has succeeded in narrowing part of the gap; we agree with the Mt. Express editorial that it is imperative and urgent that we close the proficiency gap even further. The time is now. We have two areas of focus: closing the gap while improving outcomes for all students and providing equitable resources while balancing the budget.  

    An analysis of research conducted over a 35-year period demonstrates that schools that are highly effective produce results that almost entirely overcome the effects of student backgrounds (Marzano, What Works in Schools: Translating Research Into Action, 2003).  The good news is that we know we can do this. Current successes include:

    • We have increased the Hispanic graduation rate from 79.6% to 90.6% in two years.  
    • We have increased the number of students taking Advanced Placement classes and Dual Credit.  89% of the 2017 graduating class took at least one Advanced Placement class before graduating.
    • Our early reading scores show improved literacy in grades K-2 and we are optimistic about grades 3-5.
    • We have incredibly talented and highly qualified staff who are committed to the success of every student.

    We also recognize that we have significant work to do in closing the achievement gap in literacy and mathematics. These are the concrete steps we are taking to address the general proficiency gap:

    • We have hired additional literacy and math coaches to focus on supporting teachers in areas of greatest need.
    • We have moved to a model of co-teaching that allows students learning English to stay in core content classes and access the entire curriculum while also improving their language skills.
    • The budget has been entirely revamped in order to ensure equitable resources across the district. It has led to some difficult choices, but it has also helped us see what equity looks like financially, academically, and socially.

    Our community has high expectations for our schools and we share those expectations.  Our schools cannot do this work alone. We need every member of our community to not only hold us accountable but to also tell our staff that we believe they are capable of helping every student succeed. The growing recognition across our community of the need to ensure that all students, at a minimum, are proficient in literacy and mathematics provides energy for our work.  By working together, we can ensure that every student fulfills their greatest potential. We encourage the public to help us with this goal. Thank you. 

    With gratitude,

    GwenCarol Holmes, Ed.D.