The Dolores school board tackled several issues at its January meeting, including boosting funding for a graduation celebration and modifying the calendar to accommodate the event.
Preparations are in full swing for commencement and Operation Graduation, a community program providing a safe, substance-free extravaganza for high school seniors on graduation night May 14.
At the Jan. 16 meeting, the board approved an Operation Graduation donation and readjusted the calendar to deal with the celebration.
The board also heard concerns from Dolores School District Re-4A parents regarding new rule changes and approved personnel changes.
Calendar revisionsBoard members unanimously voted to move an off-day from April 13 to May 15, so students don’t have to come to school the day after graduation.
Some parents requested the change because many school community members would have stayed up late the night before at Operation Graduation. Parents also said many families wanted to hold celebrations on the Friday after commencement, before visiting family members leave town.
Board members agreed it would be a better schedule and felt enough warning time was provided for parents to make plans.
“I think the setting of graduation on Thursday was not a great choice on our part,” said board treasurer Lenetta Shull.
Dolores High School graduation will be in the school’s main gym.
Operation GraduationBoard members unanimously approved a $750 donation for this year’s Operation Graduation, at least $200 more than the board had allocated. Shull made the motion for the extra funds.
Board member Clay Tallmadge cautioned that the district would need to make sure the donation was sustainable and consistent in the future.
Business Manager Doreen Jones said the donation should be within the budget and sustainable, although it would depend on future class sizes.
“It would be a consideration later on if we go up or down considerably,” Jones said.
During public comment, senior Madison Rodriguez told board members, “It’s this fun thing where the seniors can have one last ‘hurrah’ before they go off into the world.”
The program has been held at the Cortez Recreation Center, but since graduation is on a Thursday this year, the space is not free– the Rec Center is not available on weeknights.
The district plans to hold the event at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds this year.
The Rotary Club of Dolores will host a Bingo Night fundraiser for Operation Graduation on Jan. 28.
Personnel changesThe board approved two new hires and two resignations.
Roger Andreason and Shandra Minor were hired as substitute teachers, and Jennifer Stark and Ray Davis resigned as academic adviser and football coach, respectively.
Davis was present, and he thanked board members for the opportunity to coach.
Parental surveyRachelle Ashmore shared responses she collected from other parents, regarding reasons why families choose to leave Dolores schools.
Some concerns mentioned included rules restricting cellphone use, backpack prohibitions, “too much homework,” and a stricter dress code.
Board members did not reply, citing board policy which prevents them from responding in the moment. But members urged Ashmore to speak directly with Lis Richard, who is currently serving as both the district superintendent and high school principal.
According to a letter Richard sent to parents on Jan. 6, students no longer are allowed to bring backpacks into classrooms, wear hats in classrooms or use ear buds or cellphones in classes and hallways.
“Specifically, we are endeavoring to create a more conducive environment to learning and to make certain our students are safe while at school,” Richard wrote.