The Dolores school board talked about safety, facilities, and student retention at its meeting Sept. 12.
The discussions come as the Dolores School District Re-4A seeks major renovations to its campus, and as the district mulls declining enrollment figures.
FacilitiesThe board approved about $24,000 worth of safety upgrades to the campus.
The upgrades include three bollards; walkie-talkies for employees; a radio base and antenna; a RAPTOR system for the three schools; additional surveillance cameras to the north of the facility; repairs to gates and locks; and a panic button and blue light.
The RAPTOR system, recently installed in Cortez schools as well, is a school security system which requires visitors to submit their driver’s license at the front desk, and then the system will perform a background check, screening for sex offenders and notifying staff of child custody violations.
Board members also postponed purchase and installation of air conditioners for the elementary school until March. The district received one bid for the devices and installation for $126,000, according to Superintendent Lis Richard.
However, board members felt it made more sense to wait until after winter to pursue air conditioning to try and solicit more bids.
In other facilities news, repairs to the gym floor – damaged by flooding in spring – are nearly complete, and the district accepted a bid to finish the floor of the transportation building, according to Richard.
While the board didn’t talk about the facilities master plan last week, the board is planning to discuss it at the next meeting along with alternatives for a sports facility if the plan to expand into Joe Rowell Park isn’t approved by the town of Dolores.
Board members also unanimously approved a grant writer for the district’s Building Excellent Schools Today grant application. Richard said this cycle would be extremely competitive – this is the last year there will be two sources of funding, as next year it will move down to one.
“Just in our area, Dove Creek’s going for a BEST grant, Nucla’s going for a BEST grant, Durango’s going for a BEST grant,” she said.
Enrollment concernsSuperintendent Richard presented some enrollment figures and trends from the past five years.
This is in advance of the October count, when enrollment numbers across the state are totaled in order to count for attendance, and consequently, state funding.
In Dolores, enrollment numbers have dropped significantly – which is “of concern,” Richard said.
As of Sept. 12, the enrollment count was 683 students. Last year, the enrollment count stood at 718 students, and going back to the 2015-16 school year, that count was 792.
“That’s pretty substantial when you figure that our revenue is dependent on our enrollment,” Richard said. “And declining enrollment indicates concern.”
The transfer-out rate is most serious at the high school, Richard said.
Over the last five years, 275 students transferred out of the district at the elementary school level, but 325 transferred back in. At the middle school, 92 transferred out with 63 students coming in, and at the high school level, 219 transferred out while 93 transferred in.
Board members brought this to the discussion on how to direct the accountability committee for the school year. They decided they would roll out two separate surveys this year – one for parents and students on why transfers out of the district are happening and another for staff regarding school climate.
Lunch timesDolores parent Molly Cooper raised concerns about sufficient lunch time for her first grader’s class. She said that after observing the lunch period, it appeared that students were not getting the full 20 minutes to eat – that some of that time was being used for transitions.
The board decided to discuss the concern at a future board meeting.