by Jaye Sudar
WALSENBURG — School life is changing. Huerfano RE-1 Superintendent Mike Moore spoke to the plethora of changes he’d listed on the agenda for the administration meeting on Thursday. He figures at this point, that there are enough items for three meetings if not more during June. The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) have finally given out guidelines for opening schools, which must be understood. School districts are being asked to have a number of operational plans to work with changes in advice from local health departments and the spread of the virus within communities. Transportation, school meals, class sizes, passing periods, health screenings, field trips, and sports are just a few of the topics being discussed. A survey will be going out to parents to see how distance learning worked or didn’t work, and suggestions will be taken to make certain that everyone has a say in helping to improve the 2020-2021 school year.
Graduation and Staff Recognition
Board president Gretchen Sporleder-Orr thanked everyone involved with graduation for a job well done. The number of changes kept everyone on their toes, but in the end, it worked. She mentioned that there were some things about the event that are worth keeping. Moore agreed. In future, RE-1 may see more outdoor graduations, a parade of seniors through town, and parents escorting their graduates into the ceremony.
In Gardner, every 8th grader received a visit from school staff to present them with ‘graduation on their doorstep’.
Peakview Principal Meghan Archuleta recognized three paraprofessionals: Jessica Britt, Jennifer Torres, and Holland Weisbrook. She explained that they really stepped up to the plate to help with lunch distribution, and homework handout and pick up.
While the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) has yet to run the Long Bill, which is the budget for the state, school districts are looking at a 15% cut in funding for the year. At this point, Moore is not looking at cutting any programs or staff. He stated the district will need to make sure that the required three months funding is kept in reserve as best as can be accomplished.
Director Edie Flanagin asked if any of the CARES Act money would be put towards new technology, as the district’s current iPads are reaching their end of ‘life’. Moore stated they would be replaced with Chrome books as needed. The district is also looking into internet hotspots for the students.
While the district did not receive a BEST Grant, Sporleder-Orr spoke to the process, and the good things that were discovered and reported out to the grant committee. She stated that the information would be good to help RE-1 build on the strengths it highlighted.
Health and Wellness
Gardner School’s outgoing administrator Pam Levie gave her final report on the Health and Wellness Committee. Brenda Morgan and Tara Burke will be taking over for the 2020-2021 school year. Levie highlighted the accomplishments for the year, which saw 5th graders skiing, water bottle filling stations installed in schools, a pedal bike driven smoothie machine, and supplies purchased for greenhouses for the district. Her hopes are that next year will see more of the plans brought to fruition.
Negotiations will be held June 16 via a Zoom meeting. It is hoped by then that the JBC has let school districts know what the per pupil funding will be for the year, and that districts will have had time to make plans. The negotiation teams will be the same as last year.
39 years of service
Pam Levie was recognized for her 39 years of dedication to Huerfano RE-1. She came to the district with plans to stay for a year or two, and never left. Her work and dedication to Gardner School and the district were applauded by everyone attending the meeting. Moore thanked her and hoped that she has a lovely retirement.
Colorado Preschool Program
Moore and Archuleta clarified the manner in which CPP slots are handed out to the three programs within the district. They corrected the misinformation and assumptions that had brewed since the last meeting. The district has no plans to take needed slots from the Early Learning Childhood Center, or RMSER Headstart. Reallocation of slots will be done with those unused slots in the district with RE-1 getting first preference. The idea is to keep all allotted slots in RE-1, and not return any to the state. To do so might cause RE-1 and the other entities in the county to lose them permanently. All three entities are working together to provide the best Pre-K coverage for students.
In other business
The board approved the resignation of Brianna Crump, hired Clara Whitehead as the middle school SpEd teacher at Peakview, Autumn Tatman as a 3rd grade teacher at Peakview, and Sandra Bryan as a 4th grade teacher at Peakview. Archuleta stated the interview process has been going very well this year and was happy to note that Whitehead and Tatman are members of local families returning to the community.