Sargent discusses board opening

Photo by Chelsea McNerney-Martinez; The Sargent School Board of Education met last Monday and bid farewell to Superintendent Greg Slover, right and Board President Heather Paulson, second from right, pictured with the other board members. 

MONTE VISTA— The Sargent School Board of Education met for their June meeting on Monday, June 24 for the final time with Superintendent Greg Slover and Board President Heather Paulson, who announced her resignation. The board approved the 2019-2020 budget and discussed ways to improve communication and track data between parents, students and administration.
Paulson was thanked for her service to the board and was presented a gift by Slover, whose departure she jokingly blamed for her resignation. She did not officially announce the reason for her resignation but implied in conversation with other board members it was due to a personally necessary move. The board will accept letters of interest from qualified applicants (a registered elector of the school district for at least 12 consecutive months prior to the date of appointment) through July 24, which they will evaluate at a work session to select a new board member to serve from July 29 through Nov. 5. The person selected as well as any other qualified individuals, can gather petition signatures to be considered for a full four-year term in the November General Election.
Some decisions were postponed until the July meeting, including evaluating PSAT and SAT results and growth reports for elementary math, with Jr./Sr. High School Principal Shelley David and Elementary Principal Joni Hemmerling stating the results would not be available until then. The board also postponed a decision on transportation software until Transportation Director Rebecca Sykes could be present for a work session prior to the July 29 meeting. The proposed software would provide parents with the GPS location of the buses their children are travelling on, which Slover noted was a benefit along with breakdown diagnostics. Some board members noted even elementary students have cell phones already and text their parents their location coming back from trips and Slover acknowledged Sykes has already solved issues of changing routes efficiently when specific students aren’t riding.
The recently flooded elementary school gym is waiting on bids to replace the damaged floor, and options for the floor as well as bleachers were discussed by the board.

Board reports
During Tyler Kyffin’s board report, he discussed the steps needed to apply to deepen their well. Kyffin explained their only other option was to build water lines that might be a temporary fix, “we may end up with 205-300 feet of lines for nothing later on.” Kyffin also presented a plan to build a flagpole for the elementary school which should cost about $1,500, which he stated he would seek donations for instead of using the school’s funds. “I think it’s a great civic learning opportunity…the flag should never be political,” he stated, with the board agreeing the opportunity for students to learn how to raise/lower and fold the flag was beneficial. Hemmerling agreed the elementary staff could commit to finding ways to rotate the students to accomplish that.
During Vice-President Gina Mitchell’s board report she discussed a training on the Leader in Me program and discussed the importance and effectiveness of the program’s evidence-based practices, leading to a larger discussion of ways in which the board can convey their goals and requested information to parents. Another example mentioned was the successes of the four-day week, especially as the district approaches the end of the trial period and the board will have to decide if the change should be kept permanently or not. The board agreed they need to come together to show they hear and understand the concerns of the community and the needs of the district and are taking positive steps to address those needs. The board will review the results of the District Accountability Committee (DAC) survey and will present them at a board meeting, and Mitchell also explained they will be working with Rand Corporation on some data analysis for the four-day week as well, with a goal to make a final decision to retain the current four-day week or returning to the five-day format in January 2020.
While discussing the four-day week, the board discussed the teacher attendance rate, which was up about two percent to 92 percent, saving the district roughly $10,000 in the 2018-2019 school year.  Many of the days teachers missed were for professional development opportunities. Kyffin suggested considering a change for how professional development days count toward attendance with Mitchell pointing out some teachers take 10 days of professional development leave and the district should also consider if the benefits of professional development outweigh the negatives of having teachers out of the classroom.  
Board Secretary Tyler Mitchell discussed attending a legislature wrap-up that discussed all of the relevant bills passed at the Colorado Legislature in the 2019 session and how those bills will affect local districts. Mitchell pointed out the bill to expand concurrent enrollment opportunities reflected a trend at the state level the district will have to continue to meet.
The board approved the 2020 budget with the potential for amending it upon hearing a response for the small rural schools funding and possible teacher salary modifications if the projected student count is reached by October. The Consolidated Federal Grant which previously provided funds for an interventionist and a paraprofessional were cut so only one position could be funded.
The board also approved an alteration to the policy for attire at graduation, changing the statement from gender-based requirements of dress slacks for boys and skirts or dresses for girls to “students must wear appropriate business or dress attire.” The board also approved the MOU with the Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Office for the school resource officer position, which includes some educational opportunities with the students and event/sports coverage. The board also stated they would meet with new Superintendent Brian Crowther in the coming weeks before the July work sessions and board meeting.

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