La Veta School District optimistic about BEST grant possibility

by Melissa Ray
LA VETA — At a regular meeting of the La Veta School Board on Monday, May 14, superintendent Bree Lessar recapped to the board that she, Gaye Davis, and school board director John Albright would be the second to last group to present a scripted two-minute presentation at an open public meeting on May 16 to decide on recipients of the BEST Grant.
If the school is selected to receive the grant, it will receive forty million dollars.  The school would then need to have a bond issue passed that would raise an additional six million dollars.  This money would be used to fund a new school project.  The decision on the whether or not the school receives the grant will be made on Friday, May 18.
As for what will happen to the old school buildings if the school gets the grant, at least one group, Huerfano Economic Development Council, is looking at repurposing one of them.
Parent Lorna Eddleman addressed the school board with concerns about possible changes in eligibility requirements for the students in sports.  She is concerned that if the bar is raised too high, students will give up and not try at all.  The board expressed gratitude for Eddleman’s input and invited her to be part of a subcommittee that will include the new athletic director.
The board also listened to a presentation made by Rob Sanders with Great Schools Thriving Communities about the statewide school funding measure Initiative #93.  For more information on this topic, visit the website at
Also speaking to the board was Deb Channel of Spanish Peaks Outreach Center to explain the program Reach Out and Read.  This program gives children from the ages of 0 to 6 a new book at every well check they attend at the center.  The goal is to encourage wellness and literacy in Huerfano County.  The school districts are being asked to encourage parents to take their children to well checks.
Under the consent agenda and upon recommendation of the superintendent for Fiscal Year 2019:
• 110-day PERA-retirement teacher contract for Kenneth Arnold was renewed; 140-day PERA-retirement teacher contracts for James (Rod) Falk and Marie Ortivez were renewed; full-time secondary teachers Jon Brunelli and Stephanie (Keli) Kringel were renewed;  part-time counselor Judy Fisher was renewed with grant funding; and part-time school nurse Vonnie Valdez was renewed with grant funding.
• The following were renewed as full time staff: kitchen support staff Lila Cordova-Topping; custodial support staff Jonathan Kellams and Fernando Vigil; administrative support staff Julia Shrout and Sue Smith.
Under action items and upon recommendation of the superintendent for fiscal year 2019, the following individuals were approved for hire: Ron Ortivez, Jr as secondary teacher full-time employment; Travette Wells as secondary teacher full-time employment; Greg King as athletic director; Jill Downie as 110-day PERA-retirement teacher.
The school board’s next regular meeting has been rescheduled for Tuesday, May 29, at 5:30 pm in the La Veta school library.