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Montezuma-Cortez school board addresses BOCES appeal at monthly meeting



Photo from Montezuma-Cortez school district Facebook page


Board will learn of BOCES decision in late March

By Bailey Duran Special to The Journal

Monday, Feb 26, 2024 7:24 PM Updated Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 7:34 PM


On Tuesday, the Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 school board discussed BOCES, and heard about HVAC solutions, the all-state choir group and the Panther Chefs' cheesecake lineup.


Presentations

At the start of the meeting, the board heard from the student body government of Kemper Elementary School, who spoke of their recent fifth-grade projects that they presented to the school body. They brought their projects to the meeting for the board to view.

Skyla Hamilton, Montezuma-Cortez High School’s new agriculture teacher, told the board about the Future Farmer’s of America leadership conference this summer in Washington, D.C.

According to Hamilton and the FFA students in attendance, the cost for students to attend the conference will be about $2,000 with event fees, flights, hotels and food. Hamilton noted that they will raise funds to help offset costs for the attending students.

The FFA leadership conference fund request wasn’t on the February board agenda, but that board told Hamilton that it will be addressed at the March meeting.


The Panther Chefs are hosting a “cheesecake mania” holiday, and they are taking orders until Friday, March 1. The flavors offered for the mania this year are classic plain or cherry, classic blueberry, classic strawberry, Oreo, white chocolate raspberry and key lime.

The group held a cheesecake testing for staff and district members to sample this year’s lineup. To order, email pantherchefs@gmail.com. The cost to order is $8 for a small cheesecake and $12 for a large.


Celebration reports

The board also celebrated five members of the high school participating in the 2024 Colorado All-State choir. The students selected to be part of the choir were Emmie Beckler, Maecyn White, Chandler Snyder, Maddisyn VanGrandt and Lexyn Neighbors.


Superintendent report

Superintendent Tom Burris thanked the board for attending the training Jan. 21 with AJ Crabill and reminded them of upcoming training with Dan Jorgenson of the Colorado Department of Education in Cortez on Feb. 29 and March 1.

He also provided updates on issues with the HVAC system, saying that they have met with Foster Plumbing and Heating, which will handle the situation.

He also asked that the board help set a date for a retreat, as well as setting dates to discuss strategic planning and setting a retreat date for data, covenants and state statutes.


Assistant superintendent’s report

Assistant Eddie Ramirez provided details regarding the HVAC updates, saying that he, Ray Lopez and Burris met with Foster Plumbing and Heating from Farmington to discuss the high school geothermal heating system.

“An extensive discussion was held regarding the assessment process. Design issues and pressurized minimums were discussed and a review of the owners manual regarding the geothermal system were reviewed,” Ramirez said in his report.

The evaluation and investigation of the building began Feb. 16.


The request for proposals for security fencing at the middle school and Lewis Arriola Elementary schools were opened Feb. 16, and information on submitted proposals will be presented at the March work session.


Ramirez also reported that the first weapon detection system was “deployed” the week of Feb. 5 and the second system on Feb. 16, with other district schools coming online the week of Feb. 19.

“Continued collaboration with Cortez P.D. is ongoing in adjusting the sensitivity to ensure an improved detection result,” Ramirez said, as well as mentioning upcoming safety trainings that will take place in March.


Finance report

Finance Director Danielle Brafford informed the board of two recent donations, the first which was the donation of a piano from former high school teacher Susan Wisenbaker to Lewis-Arriola Elementary and $5,000 from Love’s Travel Shops and Country Store from their ribbon-cutting ceremony.

She also presented the 2024-2025 budget calendar, saying she hopes to have the finalized budget to present to the board by May.


Director of ESS report

Lisa Megel, the district’s director of ESS, spoke to the board about multiple items, including improving “the instruction of students with dual identification,” saying that she and Teresa Nelson are working to see the impact of language and cultural differences on education, and how to improve that gap in the district.

She also added that she has been working on “creative ways to improve the hiring and retaining of staff” with help from HR, as well as working on the beginning phases of the capstone project as part of the district’s graduation pathways.

She said they are also in the beginning stages of conversations that will help engage the community in coming up with intervention ideas for at-risk youths.

She spoke briefly of the district’s plan to appeal the CDE’s decision on BOCES, and she said she is preparing to present to the state commissioner regarding their appeal.


Action items

In action items, the board approved the consent calendar and the final 2023-2024 budget.

The next Montezuma-Cortez school board meeting will take place Tuesday, March 26 at 6 p.m.

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