The Dolores Re-4A School District voted Jan. 11 to officially consolidate the Dolores Middle School and Dolores High School into a Dolores Secondary School.
The Colorado Department of Education recommended that the two schools be combined because of their low participation in standardized testing.
According to Scott Cooper, superintendent of the district, roughly half of secondary students’ parents have opted their students out of state testing (CMAS) for the past three years.
Board treasurer Casey McClellan was concerned that the combination would be a “Band-Aid” on the problem.
“So it uses the high school to make the middle school look better,” Casey McClellan, board treasurer asked.
Superintendent Scott Cooper explained that the school already operates in this manner – the sixth grade moved to the elementary school, and secondary teachers instruct at classes in seventh through 12th grades. The change would be official in name only, by recommendation of the CDE, he said.
In an email to The Journal, Cooper explained that the school has been operating this way since the 2015-2016 school year.
“During the 2013-2014 School Year, we constructed $7 million worth of new classrooms and locker rooms,” Cooper wrote. “We struggled with building in the floodplain and researched different grade level configurations to best meet the needs of our students while maximizing the construction budget. We discovered that sixth-grade students perform socially and academically better in elementary schools.”
According to Cooper, the secondary school will have roughly 280 students in grades 7-12.
After this discussion, the board decided to follow the recommendation of CDE and combine the schools in name as well as practice.
The board passed the motion unanimously.
In addition, the school board discussed hiring processes.
McClellan raised concerns about background checks and parental involvement.
“I created this recruiting and hiring checklist because I was concerned about the fairness of the hiring process because it was not very tight, and there were relatives of people who were on the interview committee, and I said we can’t do that,” Cooper said. “I need to bring back the administration team and remind them of the importance of this because this keeps us out of trouble, if we follow it step by step.”
McClellan agreed that if the process was consistent, it was effective. He said he would put together a list of suggestions to be discussed.
The board tabled discussion of the 2018 school calendar, details of the transportation building project, the school-based health clinic and the 2018 budget until next month’s meeting.
Newly appointed board president Dee Prock also asked the board for their superintendent evaluations by Feb. 5 so that she could review and coordinate them before the meeting.
The board also set their retreat for Feb. 6 from noon to 5 p.m. at the Dolores Public Library.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:02 p.m.