Students, Staff, and Community Members,
While we have only had a couple of weeks in 2023, it has started off with a bang. The “first” day back for James and I was the 2nd of January, we had all of the heat pumps go into alarm due to the flow meter malfunctioning. The classrooms were in the high 40’s low 50’s. This was an obvious priority so we didn’t have a pipe burst. James worked with the tech to manually open the flow so we can have heat. We are still in manual override as the flow meter needs to be replaced. The next item that day was our RO system was down. The switch burned out and we are having to manually fill the tank. This is bandaged right now. James has located parts and will hopefully be getting these parts soon. Not long after we started tackling this, I got a message from Mrs. Ramseier that our site was down. Mrs. Ramseier worked with the IT department from both BOCES and Viaero to make sure that all of our student information is secure. This problem was not due to a hack of any kind. What they did find out was that the company who owned our domain on the internet went out of business. So as of the first of January we no longer have had a domain. Mrs. Ramseier worked to get our domain transferred to another company. She did this by the end of day and our domain is now owned by “GoDaddy.” Not long after this our phone system went down. Kendra worked with our phone company and Viaero to diagnose the problem. Our system is too old to “fix” and we need to completely update it. Viaero has given us a bid on what this will cost for our entire communications system. Blue Lightning told Kendra they are working away from phone systems and would not be able to replace ours. We are very lucky to have these amazing staff members. The district would literally fall apart without their efforts.
I have contacted BOCES on a CDPHE School Nurse Grant. This grant was sent out to all superintendents. Since we resource through BOCES, my thought was that if they receive the grant, it will cover our portion of the Nurse’s pay in our BOCES Share Payment. Also, since we resource this service through BOCES, we as a district cannot qualify for it. I will let you know if they receive it.
I am also working on a Colorado High Impact Tutoring Program Grant. The application is due March 1st. If we were successful in this grant, it would fund a full time classroom teacher to help close the COVID gaps we have diagnosed. This teacher would be working with students either on a one on one or small group basis during regular school hours. Our district qualifies under two priority considerations, which ups our chances of an award. This is a two year grant and could substantially increase our student learning without adding additional cost to our district.
I spoke with the elementary teachers last week and we have a plan for all of the teachers K-5 if they choose to be trained on their new phonics curriculum 95% Group from February 21st-23rd. This will give the teachers insight into how to get the most out of this new curriculum.
UPK update, in the meeting last week, it was discussed and decided that the state will honor our cut off dates for students. This means that we will not have an age gap for funding. This will not however cover a parent holding their student back for a second year in Pre-K when they are 5 years old.
I have also been asked to be a member of the Early Childhood Colorado Framework Steering Committee. This is a state advisory committee on Early Childhood and we will be reporting directly to the Commissioner of Education. I am thrilled with this opportunity to serve our district and our state in this capacity. Our views on what Early Childhood Education should look like in rural America will be shared. My first meeting is next Monday. This will not take too much time away from my duties at the district level since all of our meetings will be via Zoom.
Andrea Holzworth shared with me that she recently found out our shop for the buses is CDE certified. Since our previous Transportation Director took his tools when he left, we are short on the tools we need to remain certified. Bill Crites is going to come to the school tomorrow and go through it with her. He will help her to create a list of tools and/or equipment needed to be able to use the shop in this capacity. If we choose to invest in this, we can then certify our buses here instead of having to take them all over the front range. We would just pay him to certify them here.
I met with Kyle Lambert earlier today. We began working on a reunification plan for our district’s safety plan. I feel it is key to include Kyle as our Fire Chief in this process. His input is invaluable on how this process would unfold as his responders would be doing the footwork while we are locked down in the building. I also contacted Deputy Lamb. He headed up our active shooter training in the fall. I am hoping he can schedule a time to come back out and work with our security team and first responders to coordinate our efforts. We have the 24th marked for education of what each type of drill is. The 25th we will practice with students in the classrooms. There will be no “active” shooters in school for this drill. It is merely a walk through to clarify everyone's jobs and positions during these drills.
In closing, I wanted to talk to you for a minute about some legislation that was voted in last year that affects schools. HB22-1390 increases base per pupil funding 3.5% which is approximately $545.00, sets the BS factor at 321.2 million which is at an all time low, Read Act funds can be carried over at a rate of over 15% for per pupil intervention funds for the 22/23 school year. Another big change was in the Ascent program. The changes allow districts to designate eligibility, reduces the number of post secondary credits required to participate, and increases the number of students to 350. This increased the cost of this program 2.1 million dollars.
SB -197 increases SpEd categorical funding by 80 million, increases Tier A funding from 1250 to 1750 per pupil, and increases Tier B funding to up 26.8 million. They didn’t do a breakdown per pupil on Tier B funding.
There is also a new bill going to the legislature that would increase funding for teacher pay and retention without affecting taxes. Rep. Kipp Zenzinger is sponsoring a bill called “Referred Measure for School Funding.” This bill will take the excess Tabor dollars and allocate them directly back to education for teacher pay and retention. This is one I will be keeping my eye on closely.