Photo above the Mission Statement of The Montezuma County School Board
Cortez RE-1 School Board News
By Tammy Coulon
On Tuesday, October 19th, the Cortez School Board held a work session that preceded its regular meeting that resulted in people from the community gathering on North Elm Street in front of the Administration building to protest recent school board decisions.
The crowd that gathered around 4:30 p.m. claimed to be there to support teachers and students. Signs saying “No politics just kids”, “Every Student means Every Student”, “All kids matter”, “BOE gets an F grade,” and “Why do you keep trying to shut down the Rainbow Club”, along with various other signs.
When this correspondent attempted to interview the protesters to obtain their side of the story for print, they refused, saying they did not acknowledge The Cortez Chronicles as a “legal newspaper”.
Discussion items on the work session agenda were:
a. Legislative policy discussion was reported on by school board member Tammy Hooten.
b. School Consolidation—The RE-1 District is looking at possible consolidation of a K-3 and a separate 3-5 utilizing two different school locations so as to alleviate the shortage of teachers and staff. This plan will need community input before implementation. If this plan is adopted, the earliest it could be implemented would be for the second half of the school year after the first of the New Year. The last seven weeks has seen a large staff turnover. RE-1 is currently down 50 employees, mostly teachers. A long term goal would possibly be a new building for the entire K-5 student population.
c. Revision of the 2022 School Calendar-- The District is looking at a possible 4 day week. Instead of students attending school for 7.5 hours, the school day would be extended to 8.5 hours. This would give teachers a 3 day weekend, 4 days on weeks with Monday Holidays. Current signed contracts call for payment of a 5 day work week. Some feel this is a way to increase pay for teachers and retain staff. According to Superintendent Dr. Risha VanderWey the District has an inadequate workforce, teachers are feeling overwhelmed by having no regular schedule, no planning time, and having to substitute for other classes. She also cited exhaustion from a climate of difficult children behavior and other factors that resulted in Teachers executing a “Blue flu Monday. Dr. VanderWey announced that she has received approval from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) to implement a 4 day calendar.
d. Resolution in support of paying off the Budget Stabilization Factor in 2022
e. Board Docs
f. The 2022-2022 Salary Schedule
g. A donation from LOR Foundation for RE-1 Staff Appreciation.
h. Fort Lewis College Teacher Education Program partnership Information and Assurances Page
I. Policies for Discussion—The Board is required to review established policies
Regular Meeting Report:
The Board accepted celebration reports of our Softball team making it to State playoffs, 2 golfers to all State, and a Colorado Association of School Boards award to Tammy Hooten as Outstanding Board Member.
Kemper Elementary scores are up, the playground at Lewis-Arriola is complete. The playground at the Middle School is currently underway.
Dr. VanderWey reported that she is engaged with attending City and County meetings to increase involvement with the community.
Liz Richards, the Assistant Superintendent, reported that Charter renewal is due and will be receiving grant list information by mid November.
Sherri Wright requested that the Board be able to look at all the information on the grants before they are distributed.
Stacy Hall brought up that she has received emails from parents concerned about their children’s safety over transgender students using locker rooms and restrooms that they identify with. It was suggested that those students should work with counselors to address their issues.
Jim Parr has been researching possible new curriculum to replace Wit and Wisdom.
Cynthia Eldredge, the Human Resource Director, reported trying to keep employees happy, doing exit surveys,and obtaining information for the school board on outcomes involving recruitment, hiring. She has hired several Para-Professionals, but no PE teachers are available.
Madeline Rooney is in full support of replacing Wit and Wisdom with a new curriculum and serves on the curriculum committee. She is focused on what will be taught, a need to know what is in the books, and is not sure why teachers are so stressed out.
Susan Kemnetz and I attended the Joyce Rankin meeting on The Read Act. Joyce Rankin is our Representative on the State Board Board of Education. Our students reading level is
currently at 40% proficient. Without reading skills, students cannot be successful.
A school psychologist was asked to speak on masks. It was her stated opinion that masks were important as teachers would be less stressed about their health-if students wore masks.
In regards to the topic of Medication Protocols, Michelle Morris spoke. She felt policies should reflect all students medication needs while allowing for those students who have permission to self medicate.
Gina Duncan, a Mesa Elementary teacher, expressed disappointment with the school board. She supports the Wit and Wisdom curriculum, feels the Board is not being transparent and teachers are begging for help while coping with low morale.
Dr. Rischard said, “Racism is a severe chronic illness in our society”, and that discussion on racism and bigotry should not be stifled as students and staff learn about the disease.
Lynn Ward commented that our kids are being held back by social emotional learning and opposed the Wit and Wisdom curriculum.
Robert Moore, who works in the RE-1 Transportation department expressed concerns how a four day week will affect bus drivers.
Allen Maez said, “I learned a lot from your work session. You should take the four day a week option to the parents and the community. You need to keep in mind, that students are the primary focus of schools.”
a. Approve Consent Calendar. Yes
b. Resolution to declare vacancies on the Board of Education. Yes
c. Approve 2021-2022 Salary Schedule. Yes
d. Approve a Donation from the LOR Foundation for RE-1 Staff Appreciation. Yes
e. Approve the Fort Lewis College Teacher Education Program partnership Information and Assurances page. Yes
f. Approve request for proposals as follows
2021-2022 Roof Mesa School, Flooring Mesa School
2021-2022 Flooring Manaugh and CMS
g. Beech Street heating replacements and upgrades $10,242.99
Manaugh roof repairs $4200.00
h. Approve supplemental budget
Manaugh playground improvement GOCO Grant $110,000.00
I. Policy Revisions FIRST READING
I. GDBC Support/Staff Supplementary Pay/Overtime. Yes
ii. CBB Recruitment of the Superintendent, Yes
iii. IHCDA Concurrent Enrollment. Yes
iv. IHCDA-R Concurrent Enrollment. Yes
v. JB Equal Educational Opportunities. Yes
vi JBA Nondiscrimination on the basis of Sex. Yes
vii. JBA-E Nondiscrimination on the basis of Sex. Yes
viii. JBB Sexual Harassment. Yes
ix. J11 Students Concerns, Complaints, and Grievances. Yes
1. J11R Student Concerns, Complaints, and Grievances. Yes
ii. JLCB Immunization of Students. Yes
iii. JLCB-R Immunization of Students Regulation. Yes
iv. KE Public Concerns and Complaints. Yes
v. KE-R Public Concerns and Complaints. Yes
vi. KCD Public Gifts/Donations to the Schools. Yes
vii. Policy Revisions Second Reading
ix. GBAA Sexual Discrimination and Harassment. Yes
x. GBK Staff Concerns/Complaints/Grievances. Yes
xi. IC/ICA School Year/ School Calendar/Instruction Time. Yes
JLCD, JLCDR, JLCD-E, JLCDB were all pulled for review
xvi. JJA-2 Student Organizations-Open Forum. Yes
K. Wit and Wisdom for Elementary
Tammy Hooten put forth to dissolve Witt and Wisdom by semester.
During discussion Dr. VanderWey said she would have to check with the Colorado Board of Education to make sure of compliance.
Surveys taken from teachers two months ago voted down the Wit and Wisdom secondary curriculum brought in for the 2019 school year.
Mr. Parr is looking into a new curriculum and to report back to the Board by December.
With a replacement, a two week public review is required. Right now, the vote is for the Elementary Schools. Vote was unanimous NO, and to revisit after Dr. VanderWey’s report.
L. Approve a temporary Secretary for the Board.
Added to next Agenda.
a. To approve the 2022 Spring School Calendar