by Bill Knowles
AGUILAR- A raucous meeting of the Aguilar School Board ended with board members reappointing Mae Navarette and Cynthia Vigil on a 3-1 roll call vote after receiving advice from the board’s attorney concerning their appointment by a secret paper ballot taken at the April 29 board meeting.
At the beginning of the meeting, the board approved minutes from three special meetings and one regular meeting all held in April for the purpose of reviewing teacher and staff contracts and filling two empty board seats.
Last week, board member Joe Andreatta passed away, vacating another seat which the board now has to fill. Members voted 6-0 to reconsider the letters of interest from two qualifying parties and receive letters of interest for the empty seat until May 26 at 4 pm. They will hold a special meeting on May 31 to interview the candidates and vote to fill the empty seat.
During a period when comments were taken from citizens, former Aguilar mayor Don Starbuck addressed the board, redressing them about their conduct and their failure to follow Colorado Revised Statutes in relation to the paper ballot taken at the April 29 meeting and approved with the April 29 minutes.
Starbuck asked why the board accepted two candidates’ letters even though they arrived past the deadline. Board President Erlinda Encinias replied that she didn’t know that, adding, “It’s not so, the superintendent was not able to talk to the parties involved.” “At 3:22, on Monday April 25, I called the school and was told to turn the letters over to the school board,” Encinias said.
When Starbuck brought up the irregular vote taken by using a secret paper ballot in a public meeting, Encinias said she had no explanation for that.
“The school is bleeding students and administrative staff,” Starbuck said. “This is detrimental to the students, school, and teachers who are waiting to see if they even have jobs…. We’ve lost 39 students to other school districts. Thirty-seven more are being home-schooled. If parents who’ve been talking about pulling their kids next year do that, we will be down below 100 students on enrollment. The school can’t survive on that. Maybe you should resign.”
Other issues cited by Starbuck were the lack of a surety bond for the district covering the secretary and treasurer of the school board. Without the bond, the district itself becomes responsible for any funds they receive if those funds should disappear or be misappropriated.
In other business the board voted 6-0 to accept the resignations of Superintendent JoAnne Hilton-Gabeler and Gordon Lucero. They also accepted the retirement letters of Martin Dosen, Shelly Wagner and Natalie Grubelnik. Renewal of Principal Sylvie Fontaine was approved. Frank Coppa, the Athletic Director, and Karen Surer and Alissa Smith’s contracts were not renewed. The school is now without an athletic program.
Just before adjournment of the meeting board, member Vicky Huffman stood and addressed the board and crowd to tender her resignation. The board now has two more seats to fill.