Sherry Gomez, Dorothy Martinez, Gretchen Sporleder Orr all win seats at the table
by Dan Harper
WALSENBURG — After a delay of nearly three weeks, the RE-1 board finally received certified election results that arrived just minutes before the meeting started. An automatic recount was required as the difference in the count was less than 2%.
The new board member is Gretchen Sporleder Orr. Incumbents Dorothy Martinez and Sherry Gomez return for their second four year term.
Elections were held after the newly elected board members were sworn in by president Jaye Sudar. Sherry Gomez was elected board president. Gretchen Sporleder Orr is vice president, Dorothy Martinez is secretary, and Julia Marchant is treasurer. Julia Marchant has stepped up to be the BOCES representative as well.
At that point, there was a small pause as directors Sudar and Gomez traded places, and Gomez took up the gavel. Gomez stated four board members will be attending the Colorado Association of School Board 77th Annual Conference in Colorado Springs later this week. A joint workshop with La Veta RE-2 is being planned as well as a board retreat and a holiday supper for RE-1.
Superintendent Mike Moore recognized JMHS senior David Knight for his accomplishment in becoming a part of the Blue Knights Drum Corps. David then recognized those JMHS mentors that helped him to achieve his musical goals. Ross Hallihan, Doug Olson, Ben Pollack and volunteer Joe Camacho were all honored.
Superintendent Moore recognized Roz McCain and Dan Valentine for their work in the math department at the high school. Moore recognized Peakview Principal Brenda Duran as one of three finalists for the Demont award. This award is for school administrators who “leave it better than they found it” in districts of 1,500 or less. Duran will find out if she has won this prestigious award on Friday morning at the CASB convention. The board congratulated her on being one of the top three finalists.
Mary Ann Vigil addressed the board about autism and gave information about one possible resource for additional training for district personnel. One in 68 children have some form of autism. Moore said he would look at Vigil’s recommendation as well as other possible resources to help district staff work better with autistic children.
A fifty minute executive session was held to discuss a high school student’s conduct. The student was expelled for the remainder of the school year. As with any expulsion, the board works hard to balance what is best for students. Gomez asked JMHS Principal Gunny Pagnotta to consult with the student’s guardians to ensure all avenues and accomodations are made for the student and family.
Moore gave an update on the search for a math teacher and business manager. He said that at this time, there are no available math teachers graduating from Colorado colleges. At this time, it is likely the high school will use Khan Academy and a second online math course. Cost is the biggest factor, with one solution being approximately $4,500 less than the other. Student representative to the board, Max Moll gave his opinion on how things were working with the math classes. He says the current use of Khan Academy combined with the efforts of the volunteer math teachers is working well.
Interviews for a new business manager will be held on December 4th. If no candidate is chosen on this round, the district will reopen the advertisement.
The board was updated on issues with the E-Rate program. The district is owed nearly $80,000 in federal reimbursement due to a difference in filed paperwork by Secom and Century Link. Director David Tesitor questioned how athletic fees were collected. Moore reminded the administrators that all fees should be collected prior to participation in sports, and not half now, half later. While this has been standard practice, it is against district policy.
Moore informed the board Crowley County is hoping to move from South Central BOCES to Southeastern BOCES to gain a possible $89,000 savings for their district. Should this happen, the remaining south central school districts will find their costs increase, an approximately $35,000 increase for RE-1. Moore and other area superintendents are looking at other possibilities, including establishing a BOCES centered on RE-1, and including neighboring school districts. He will keep the board updated.
State accreditation of the district and the schools has been updated. A further request to reconsider the ratings has not been finalized. However, the district moved up to the improvement rating, which takes it off of the five year accreditation clock.
After some discussion, the board voted to purchase two new copiers for Peakview School. Marchant spoke about how the district used to make annual book purchases in rotation by subject. She suggested teachers use more books and fewer printed worksheets. Gardner principal Pam Levie stated many textbooks use expendables which are costly as well. The general consensus was schools need to work together on logical and strategic book purchases and fully utilize technological options to reduce paper copies.
Nine Gardner area John Mall students are interested in riding an activity bus, so a new route will be added between Gardner and John Mall. Any student participating in a school sport or activity will be eligible to ride the bus.
In other business, the board hired Mark Vialpando and Heather Gonzales as boys and girls basketball coaches respectively for Gardner School, and Randy Royce for assistant boys basketball coach for John Mall. Bryan Crispin, Stuart Pino and Frank Vialpando were approved as volunteer assistant wrestling coaches. Faith Espinoza and Jennifer Vialpando were hired as high school assistant girls basketball coaches.
Pamela Macdonald, Brianna Johnson and Crystal Rauch were added to the substitute teachers list. The board accepted resignations from math teacher Doug Crowley, and paraprofessional Ashley Schrauth.
The board added a number of volunteers to the volunteer list, Larry Bullock for John Mall High School, Diane Cotts and Suzanne Watson for Gardner School and Jan Kelly for Peakview.