MONTE VISTA— The Monte Vista School Board’s April meeting began by honoring Peggy Haslar, counselor at Marsh School, as the 2016-2017 Educator of the Year. Haslar will also be nominated for SLV Educator of Year.
She has been a counselor at Marsh for 15 years, and coordinates all of the counseling teams between the four schools in the district. Superintendent Bob Webb and Board President Dr. Matt Nehring praised her for being investigative and enthusiastic about education, always looking for the most appropriate, evidence-based methods for handling students’ varied needs. Haslar is famous for writing her own songs to accompany the concepts that she is working on, which many students can still recall years later. “Her positive and lasting impact can be seen throughout all of our schools,” said Webb.
Adams State University presentation
Dr. Beverlee McClure, president of Adams State University, attended the school board meeting to discuss collaboration efforts between the school districts in the Valley and Adams State. “I’m afraid what I have to say may be boring now,” McClure joked about following the sex education in health curriculum discussion. “I’m here to talk about how ASU can be a good partner and continue making the entire Valley our campus.” McClure discussed many of the recent changes and new developments at Adams State, including the selection of Monte Vista School Board President Dr. Matt Nehring to be the interim vice president of academic affairs. McClure discussed how their Academic Master Plan will continue to add more programs of value to their students, to continue their commitment to students’ success. New programs include an agriculture degree partnership with CSU, a food studies program, an adaptive leadership program and a new masters in public administration.
McClure discussed their commitment to affordability, reminding the board that if a student as a high school junior or senior begins to complete general education classes, their tuition will be locked in for the full four years to complete their Bachelor’s degree. She also emphasized that they are committed to helping all valley students with their college financial aid package, regardless of whether they choose to attend ASU or not.
From the community development standpoint, McClure discussed the value-added agriculture program, which is partnering with different resources throughout the Valley to promote the industrial growth of organic hemp. ASU is also looking at more programs to boost the Valley’s healthcare sector both through their nursing programs and their business degrees. They are also building partnerships in teacher education and adult education to expand those programs. ASU is also coordinating a Valley-wide economic plan, which they will host a meeting to discuss in more detail in August, but which keeps all of the municipalities on the same plan-looking for a few major ideas to keep building the economy around to improve the area. Municipalities are required to sign a code of ethics that adheres to a principle of “what is good for one town is good for the Valley” to avoid direct competition in the same industries.
Webb asked McClure about Adams State’s relationship with TSJC. “We’ve really built that up,” she answered. “We’re sharing housing, sharing graduation space and we’re exploring the option to share bookstores.” She also explained that the two institutions have been looking at other joint academic programs with “60+60 credit hours” at each one. Webb added that he encourages the high school students to take online college courses and that Monte Vista will pay for six to 12 credit hours, but he has been encouraging students to take them through TSJC because ASU is more cost prohibitive. McClure explained that ASU has been working with Lara Gordon, the high school counselor, to work on their financial aid packages.
2017-2018 calendar changes
Loree Harvey, biology teacher at MVHS, presented some of the proposed changes to the 2017-2018 calendar. The main point of discussion was a solar eclipse on Aug. 21, which would otherwise be the first day of school. The solar eclipse should be about 80 percent visible here and the path of totality will be visible about 400 miles north of here, but Harvey anticipated that many students and staff members would travel to see the eclipse. She sent out a survey and 31 teachers responded by saying that they were interested in travelling to see the eclipse and nine answered with saying “they would go regardless” of school being in session or not. Board members and teachers expressed how Monte Vista is well-known throughout the Valley for their advanced science programs. Since the eclipse is a rare scientific event, accommodating time off for would espouse their value for science. Tichy pointed out that there were two possible solutions that allowed Aug. 21 to be a day off, making Aug. 25 a school day or Aug. 17 or 18 instead, which would allow time to inform the students, but would start the school year on a Thursday or Friday. Marsh Principal Stacey Plane expressed how that would make the staggered start for kindergarten difficult. The board resolved to adapt the first draft of the calendar with an amendment to take Aug. 21 off, and have school on Friday, Aug. 25 instead.
Webb began his discussion by stating the State Legislature is looking at a $185 per student increase in funding and the Senate Education committee recently voted to send an additional 100 million dollars to small-rural districts in need, which unfortunately doesn’t help Monte Vista because their standards for small-rural puts districts like Telluride at a higher priority because Monte Vista has more students (more than 1,000 total). The school is also working on finding the owners of the railroad cars on their property. If they can’t find their appropriate owners, the school will look at taking them as abandoned property and selling them. Webb joked that the cars have been handy in preventing people from parking and watching the football games without paying, other board members joked that the cars should thus stay there until the price of steel goes up.