The Dolores School Board and its constituents discussed the 2018-2019 school calendar at the district board meeting Thursday night.
The issue of the calendar was tabled at January’s meeting. According to Superintendent Scott Cooper, during that time two of the plausible calendars were fine-tuned.
“The 150-day calendar got 58 percent of the vote, and the calendar that looks a lot like what we are doing now got 42 percent of the vote from certified teachers,” Cooper said.
He also pointed out that certified teacher surveys showed younger teachers who are trying to start families were in favor of a four-day school week.
Cooper also said that this was a strategy of the district to attract and retain teachers. “This 150-day calendar will attract and retain more teachers,” he said.
In addition, 100 out of 178 districts in Colorado have moved to a four-day school week, according to Cooper.
However, community members and staff who attended the meeting voiced concerns for students who depend on school for food and young children fighting fatigue during a longer day.
Board treasurer Casey McClellan voiced concern that the board’s function is to represent the community, and he felt a vote on the calendar on Thursday night would not reflective that mission.
Multiple surveys, with different calendar options, have been made available to Dolores residents, teachers, students and staff.
“The first round of surveys were for everybody to participate, and when it gets down to a tough decision, I have to lean on my professionals in this business to do what is best for the kids.” said Cooper.
The board voted unanimously to table the calendar until its next meeting, citing community input.
“I do feel like the community weighed in initially, but they do not feel like they have had any opportunity to weigh into this. I do not see a negative side to having community and other staff weigh in,” board president Dee Prock said. “A decision needs to be made. It is a difficult decision with a lot of parameters.”
According to Prock, the new survey will be available sometime in mid-February.
“As far as my understanding, we are planning to give a summary of the pointed-out pros and cons to the four-day week calendar and offer some education about the rationale behind it and put it out to the community,” Prock said in a phone interview with The Journal.
The board will reconvene on the issue at its March 8 meeting.
The board also continued discussions on whether to remodel the bus garage or build a new facility.
The current facility, located just west of Dolores, is outdated and does not meet state standards for conducting bus inspections, Cooper said at December’s board meeting.
After discussion about need versus want and whether or not the building should be built to tailor to short-term versus long-term needs, the board passed a motion to “request bids from an architect with the criteria stated, either stand-alone, or add-on with a $300,000, with three bays, 60 by 60.”
The board also discussed the school-based health clinic. According to Cooper, the architects are almost finished, and the district hopes to break ground by spring break.
In other action, the board unanimously approved the hiring of fifth-grade teacher Kevin Vaughn and the resignation of Middle School volleyball coach Dave Hopcia.
Board members also approved a weeklong trip to California for six eighth-grade science students, beginning March 23.
“I set it up with World Strides Organization to take a science-based trip to California where we will see Yosemite, the Redwood Forest, Monterey Bay,,” eighth-grade science teacher John McHenry told the board.
The board also unanimously moved to table an executive session for superintendent evaluations until a 5 p.m. session on Feb. 22.