WALSENBURG — It was short and sweet with only two main issues on the agenda at the RE-1 Board of Education meeting Tuesday. The first was the BOE approval to hire Mark Thompson for the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) position. Thompson’s background most recently included affiliation with a STEM magnet school in northern Colorado. Prior to that, his background includes Navy military service, an MBA from Hawaii Pacific University and a degree in Mathematics from Fort Lewis College in Durango. He is also an Eagle Scout, and former scoutmaster. Thompson is accepting a newly created position within RE-1, which will begin the process of incorporating STEM programming into the entire district, including Gardner, Peakview and JMHS. The district has worked for the last two years to increase awareness of the importance of STEM instruction in the district. The board accepted, with regret, the retirement of Betty McDonald at the end of the current year. McDonald’s decision comes on the heels of her husband Pat’s retirement last month. In other action, the board approved additions to the volunteer and substitute custodian list. After the regular meeting, the board went into a workshop to discuss several topics. At the top of the list was hearing details on the district budget audit. The report was preliminary and should be presented for final approval at the next board meeting January 28 at John Mall High School. The board also learned how to better understand the budget and how to go through the budget making process. The board will begin to work on the 2014-2015 budget soon and will look for ways to be fiscally responsible, given the limited revenue sources available to the district. The board also heard a report from the county assessor, Louise ‘Chuky’ Sandoval, concerning the former CCA prison property valuation, and how that has impacted, and could continue to impact, school district revenues. Finally, the BOE discussed long range planning and capital expenditures including upgrading technology, text books, and facilities.
Part 3 of Benton Canon’s harrowing tale of surviving against all odds by