At the school board's work session on Dec. 17, Senator Ellen Roberts was present to answer questions from the board. A lot of different subjects were tossed around, but the focus was mostly on small school districts and how Roberts could help make the Mancos School District better.
Board member Tim Hunter cited the state constitution and how school boards are in "control of instruction". But, he said, the Colorado Department of Education seems to control our school district with lots of requirements. "It's onerous the amount of requirements they send us."
Superintendent Brian Hanson expressed concern for the teacher evaluations that are required by CDE and that principal Jeannette Allen does teacher evaluations constantly. "That's all she does," Hanson said, "and there are other things that principals need to be doing."
He also told Roberts that school standards are good, "but so are other things."
Board member Chris Kloster was concerned about school finance and the school budget problems. Board member Wesley Rivera was also concerned about hiring qualified teachers and paying them enough so that they will come to Mancos.
The board president, Monty Guiles, was distressed about kids and the lack of consequences for many of them. "How do you give teachers back the authority in this day and age?," he said.
Roberts listened to all of the concerns and voiced her own unease about kids, small school districts and the budget. But, she said, "you, as a board, can see this. Stay on your community and stay on the parents, to deal with these things. And stay on me, as your senator!"
She hoped that in the next legislative session that "we don't try to undo some of the education reform efforts we've done.. so let's keep talking about this."
"My job is to carry the message up there (Denver) and get those things embedded in the CDE (Colorado Department of Education). I'm a huge proponent of local control and we are at the tipping point to deal with these decades-long issues."
The school boards on the Front Range don't always know what the problems are for these smaller districts, she said. "They live in a world that is a whole lot different than the rest of us."
She thanked the board for all the good work they've done and for being of service to the community.
"This is a tough time to be in public service," she said.
At their regular meeting, the board heard from Pearlie Chadwick for an update on the preschool. The construction should be completely done by this Friday, Dec. 21. She is ready to open the preschool, and said that there will be fire and health inspections on Dec. 26 and a Head Start official on Jan. 8. The ribbon cutting and open house should be on the evening of Jan. 10 and they will be set to open on Monday, Jan. 14.
Hanson, in his report, said that the State had made adjustments to the per pupil revenue numbers, even after the enrollment showed an increase. "It has dropped to $7,907 per pupil, and last year it was $8,079. We still received more money from the state, but just not as much," he said.
Guiles asked the board to think about changing the format of the work session. "Instead of going over policies that we will be going over for a long time, why don't we let Brian read them and bring those to our attention that need our attention. Then we can spend that time actually fixing things, figuring out ways to make this a better school."
The board approved the following recommendations:
Preschool salary schedule
Job description for the preschool
Hire Jack Varcados as the high school math teacher
Hire Andrew Saletta s K-12 music teacher
Hire Sherri Asnicar as preschool teacher
Hire Carolyn Knauer as preschool aide
Hire Tiffany Aspromonte as preschool administrative assistant
The school board had a special meeting on Dec. 13 to approve the mill levy for property tax year 2012.