Please note: The following highlights are not intended to report on all discussions or decisions that the board has undertaken at this meeting. Refer to Board-approved August 14 minutes at the end of this article for details.
Superintendent Linda Reed briefed board members on the current progress of a number of endeavors.
- Build Pagosa, an initiative forged by a group of motivated Pagosa residents passionate about this community’s growth and vitality, received its 501c3 status, which will enable them to attract donors and collect funds to begin renovation of the former Powerhouse building. The newly remodeled building will be the home of several of the high school’s CTE programs, such as Building Trades 1 & 2 and Woodworking.
- For the upcoming school year, ASD will be using the State’s revised Teacher Rubric to evaluate teachers’ performance.
- In June, the district was approved for a BEST grant from the State of Colorado to address the safety and security needs at the high school. The projects include both construction and electronic improvements, and ASD has initiated a Design Build RFQ process.
- ASD is pursuing two grant opportunities to address safety/security issues. One is the SAFER Grant program, which will help the district fund the maintenance and training of its interoperability communications (radio system). Grants from the second opportunity -- the School Security Disbursement Program -- will allow for capital construction (structure and hardware/equipment) and safety training.
- CDE will release state, district and school level data to the public at the end of this week. Assessment data can be shared at the board’s work session, prior to their regular meeting on September 11, 2018.
Several department heads updated the board on progress of projects and initiatives.
- Technology Director Jesse Morehouse reported that the 2017-18 NWEA and CSAP computer-based testing resulted in the best user experience ever by multiple administrators and teachers. Wider use of Chromebooks, better WIFI coverage, and better test preparation in weeks before the tests were contributing factors.
- Other items of note were several updates to outdated equipment and technology, as well as upgraded service, much of which the district purchased at considerable savings. Morehouse hired a new IT assistant, Tommy Henry, to replace longtime ASD employee Hannah Bachtel.
- Morehouse also reported that by the start of school all three schools will have full interior and exterior security camera systems installed. These cutting-edge systems, shared by law enforcement and viewed by administrators via their phones, are easy to operate with minimal training required. Other efforts to improve safety/security protocols are underway.
- Director Steve Voorhis caught the board up on several summer projects completed and currently underway. Many of the projects, he noted, were necessary simply because of wear-and-tear from use during the school year, such as new cubbies/lockers, carpet replacement, and repairs to systems and infrastructure. Installing film on windows, remodeling/expanding classroom and office spaces, repairing potholes, replacing lighting to a LED system, and other maintenance projects were also completed.
- Of note, by replacing and servicing drinking fountains the district eliminated 928,000 plastic bottles from being used.
- Voorhis reported concern about an aging geothermal heating system, particularly at the elementary school, which has sustained many leaks throughout the years. Fresh water corrodes the valves and fittings, resulting in leaks and loss of heat. Much of the 50-year-old system will need to be replaced soon.
- Co-directors Lynn Lucas and Lori Manzanares are gearing up for their first full school year in charge of transportation. Both are committed to supporting a positive environment in the “bus barn,” which will translate into a better experience for all involved.
- Much of their summer was spent on additional training and networking with other professionals. ASD buses underwent rigorous mechanical service and repairs to ensure they will be ready to roll at school start.
- The department is using a new software system -- Traversa -- to determine bus routes. Those routes will be finalized once school begins. Also new this year is a revised bus contract, which parents need to sign and return to the transportation department.
Human Resource and Curriculum Assessment
- Assistant Superintendent Laura Mijares noted that the district has hired at least 10 new classroom teachers and several others who have paraprofessional and non-instructional positions, including 3 new team members who serve the entire district. An onboarding process was developed this summer to help teachers get up and going for the school year. Several strides were made to enhance professional development training.
- First of the year, personnel will be required to attend Standard Response Protocol training, which will help ensure proper response to emergency situations. Other key community stakeholders, such as law enforcement and emergency response teams, are invited to attend.
- ASD continues to collaborate with other private, non-public schools in the community. For instance, Valor Academy is pursuing a relationship with ASD so they would be eligible for federal funds.
Up for discussion at the board meeting were two legislative proposals heading for the ballot this November. The board and members of the community weighed in on the language of the Mill Levy Override ballot resolution, which would help ASD recruit and retain highly qualified teachers and staff in order to become more competitive with other districts in the area. The MLO would also fund full-time school resource officers and full-day kindergarten, as well as provide supporting funds for Pagosa Peak Open School. The board tabled discussion and action until later this month.
The board also discussed Amendment 73 for school funding, which will appear on the November ballot for all Colorado voters. According to an article on Colorado Education Association’s website, “Although Colorado has one of the fastest growing economies in the nation, the state spends $2,000 less per student on average, compared with the rest of the country. Teacher pay is rated well below the national average, and schools struggle to recruit and retain qualified teachers. Many districts are forced to start off the school year with unfilled positions. . . . Amendment 73 would raise $1.6 billion a year in additional, sustainable revenue for Colorado’s public schools, bringing them closer to the national average in school funding.”
At this time, the board hasn't supported or opposed Amendment 73 until further discussion amongst members occurs. At the August 14 meeting, board members had the opportunity to share his/her opinion, which is reflected in the meeting minutes. (To be posted once approved. See top of page.)
You may access full department reports, updates, and agenda items for the August 14 meeting at Boarddocs.
Next board monthly meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 11 at 6pm.