Tutoring plan receives warm reception

School District 51 Superintendent Steve Schultz speaks at the Grand Junction Education Forum on Thursday morning. The goal of the forum is to get 500 new tutors in District 51 by the end of the year.

The Grand Junction Forum’s plan to bring 500 volunteers into local schools was met with enthusiasm during its announcement Thursday morning.

The group of a dozen community leaders who focused on finding ways to enrich the community and its economy have spent the past year debating how to provide a world-class education in the Grand Valley. The result was a plan to stir up community members to become first-time volunteers and tutor students for up to an hour once a week for six- to eight-week periods, and the forum presented it to nearly 20 community members Thursday morning in the Ed Bozarth Community Room.

Lisa Mullen, owner of Rocky Mountain Sanitation and a mother of three, said after the announcement she is excited to see the plan involves community participation.

“As a business owner I’d so much rather be asked to volunteer in a specific way than be taxed,” Mullen said.

Bank of Colorado President Chris Launer was so impressed with the idea he volunteered a $5,000 donation from the bank to help pay for finger-printing and background checks for the volunteers.

Alpine Bank, meanwhile, offered $10,000 in matching funds. Screening 500 volunteers would cost $25,000.

Launer said the tutoring plan, which will otherwise carry no price tag, makes sense given school district budget constraints, and he supports getting community members more involved in schools.

“There aren’t enough hands with paid staff” in schools, he said. “This plan is simple, it’s basic, and it seems like a win for everyone.”

The first stretch of the program, which will take new and returning tutors each academic quarter, will begin Oct. 20 with tutors helping District 51 students in Title I elementary schools improve their reading skills. Tutoring sessions will happen between 1:50 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Wednesdays at schools.

Eventually the program could grow to include other schools, grades and subjects, District 51 Superintendent Steve Schultz said.

Forum members will spend the next few months helping recruit volunteers, and they will check in periodically with the school district for years to come to see how the program is going and how else the community can help a world-class education blossom, Grand Junction Forum Chairman John Hopkins said. Hopkins said the forum committee will continue to meet monthly and will focus on other topics related to helping the city thrive after the tutoring program gets off the ground.

“There’s a lot of things we can do,” Hopkins said.

Anyone who wishes to join the tutoring effort can pick up a form at the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce offices at 360 Grand Ave. and return it there.

Each applicant will be notified about the school and child they’ve been assigned to, as well as when they can attend a two-hour training session.


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