By Tammy Coulon
On Sept 21st, 2021, The RE-1 School board voted to pass a resolution against having CRT (Critical Race Theory) taught in our schools. The full You Tube video of the school board meeting is at the bottom of this article.
The meeting area was packed full, with 24 chairs in the boardroom for the public, and 75+ in the overflow room, with many attendees standing in the hallway.
Highlights from the Agenda
The meeting started off with a presentation of “Mesa Girls on the Run,” with the students sharing what they love about the morning dance program and walk/run that they do every day at Mesa school. This program was designed for character and self-esteem building for the students. On November 6th at 11:00 AM they will be having their annual run that will host 500 to 800 participants in the Girls on the Run Event at Three Rivers in Durango, CO. This is open to all and many girls from the west slope will be coming together for the run.
The High School Girls' Softball team has returned to play their home games at the newly renovated Englehart field.
Kemper students excelled on test scores in our state. It was also reported that Kemper had an evacuation to the library this week. This was caused by a public altercation at a nearby residence. This discussion then brought up emergency recommendations on relocation procedures by the Cortez Police Department, who have the best knowledge of the safest places for students to be housed in the event of an emergency.
The next item agenda was a report from School District Financial Director, Kyle Archibeque. He reported that paperwork was being filled out for Medicaid Health services, which is due every five years. The 20-21 financial audit will be presented to the school board by the November meeting.
The transportation department reported on a couple of school bus breakdowns. Details reported included a fuel pump that went out, stranding students in Pagosa Springs. Transportation staff reported that the Pagosa Springs school district was kind enough to send one of their buses to transport Cortez students home. Parts delays were areas of concern for the department in that some parts are going to be delayed for 60 days and are causing problems in completing repairs.
Repairs: The Pleasant View school roof is in need of repairs. Mesa, Manaugh and the MCMS are needing carpet replaced and possibly the cafeteria floor in the middle school.
The Human Resources Director, Cyndi Eldredge, reported on an 62% increase in the utilization of Triad Counseling for teachers and personnel this year and that it jumped 14% in the last week. This is attributed to bomb threats, the altercation near Kemper leading to evacuation to the library and bad behavior from students.
COVID-19 update: 5 people are out with positive test results right now. A spike was noted in our region after the Labor day weekend but has began to trend back down.
Public Comments Overview - to view Public comment portion of video-begin view at 1:50:17
During the public comment portion of the meeting, several areas of concern were voiced. Teachers from the middle school and other district elementary schools brought forward concerning issues. The teachers talked about staff shortages in all areas especially in teaching staff. They are filling in for each other and not having any free or planning time. There are classrooms having up to 40 students per teacher. They are doing online
schooling as well as in person with the COVID restrictions in place.
Another major concern voiced by both the district Human Resource Director and many teachers was the need for an hourly pay increase for the ESS and life skills program aides. Teachers also spoke on violent aggression from students with 40% of incidents being caused by repeat offenders. This is causing concern for student and teacher safety.
The third concern was CRT (Critical Race Theory) and the curriculum, in regards for the teachers not wanting to start all over and form a better committee to go over the curriculum.
Complaints of Critical Race Theory and the supplemental curriculum “Wit and Wisdom” was expressed by several. One parent giving a history lesson comparing the teachings of CRT to 1933 Nazi Germany teachings.
A teacher became upset saying that he was called a Nazi due to poor speakers and echo in the overflow room. A Cortez City Policeman was called to make sure no altercations would arise.
K. Maxwell with Colorado National Suicide prevention offered her perspective of the lunch bunch, reporting that ages 9 through 12 consider suicide and many LGBTQ youth are three to five times more likely to commit suicide than a heterosexual, 8.4 times more likely when in a rejected family situation.
A parent of an 11 year-old told us their child came home after going to a lunch bunch meeting wanting to know if she was considered pan gender. Concerned, this parent wants no politics, no religion, no gender ideology / LGBTQ allowed in school, but Lunch Bunch could be an after-school activity with parental consent. Parents should be able to attend these functions with their children.
Another opinion of CRT and Wit and Wisdom from a parent, saying it doesn’t belong in our schools and is influencing students to have behavioral problems such as having sex in the hallways, a student choking another student, students kicking, hitting and lashing out with aggression towards teachers and other students.
Conditions were unbearable in the overflow room and there were suggestions of using the high school auditorium for the next school board meetings so that all attendees can be in one room.
A concerned parent voiced that there is discrimination happening against non-vaccinated students, saying this should be based on private healthcare choice and the school does not have the right to student's private health records.
Strong supporters of the lunch bunch, Social Emotional Learning and Critical Race Theory presented their thoughts on why it should be taught in school and calling the board bigots to the LGBTQ students. One community member stated that if our test score levels do not come up to the state standards, the state will step in and the school board will be no longer.
The Board Votes
The schoolboard voted to pass a resolution not allowing CRT taught in our schools, standing against racism.
All first and second readings on the agenda were motioned to be moved to the October 19 work session.
The board voted in favor of ESS AIDES having a pay raise starting with their September 1st checks.