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La Veta School Board gets grants update

by Caitlin Dunn

LA VETA — On June 13, grant writer Gaye Davis reported to the La Veta School Board on the status of the schools’ BEST application, which was submitted in February. She said La Veta is currently positioned ninth out of twelve applications by the State Board of Education. “It’s hard to tell what will happen,”

Davis said, adding that the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) will communicate with the board regarding funding. Davis also gave updates on three health-related CDE applications. The School Health Professional Grant was successful and will be utilized to identify professionals who meet needs based on the impacts of marijuana in the community. The school was approved for approximately $26,000 for a school health nurse to come in once a week in fiscal year 2017, plus $11,000 to go towards the high school’s part-time counseling position.

The second successful grant was Comprehensive Health Education, a three-year grant for $30,000 yearly. According to Davis, this will be used to acquire health education and identify a person to meet multiple health education needs.

The third, status unknown, is the Colorado Health Foundation grant, to help the school find a certified individual for counseling, physical education, and health education. “We’re looking for a trifecta,” Davis said. Superintendent Bree Lessar confirmed that no interviews will be held until the board has been formally notified of grant approval. She then said, “We are lucky to have Gaye in our district. I can’t say enough about the work she’s done.”

Lessar reported on district maintenance of the town baseball field. She said while field is a drain on the school’s time and energy, the district has no wish to see it fall into disrepair. In her estimation, it would cost roughly $4,000 per year to maintain the field. Board member Cindy Campbell suggested seeking parks and recreation department funds.

The board approved the first reading of a policy on student fees, fines, and charges, and discussed potential difficulties with omitting free and reduced lunch students from the student fees program, particularly the confidentiality of such information. “This is something we may want to look at through the fall,” Lessar said. She added the district wishes to educate the community about the importance of raising funds at the local level. “It’s a communication [and a] procedural issue,” said Lessar. The board unanimously agreed to strike from the policy the exclusion of free and reduced lunch students from paying the $100 student fee.

Randi Huff, second and third grade teacher, submitted her resignation, noting that she held a deep sense of pride for her years at the school. “La Veta is such a unique school,” Huff said, and added that she has been glad to see her students grow into productive citizens. Board member Eleanor Foley expressed her regret to see Huff go, and said, “Your service has been valuable.” The board accepted Huff’s retirement and approved a transitional contract for her in fiscal years 2016-2017. The board also accepted the resignation of junior high science teacher Deanna Oberheu with regret. In her resignation letter, Oberheu wrote, “I love the feeling that we are all here investing in the same kids because it makes it feel like we are one family with one goal in which we each have a small part.”

The board hired Mahalia Hilts as full-time secondary social studies teacher and the following coaches: Jon Brunelli for varsity boys’ basketball, Amber Huff for varsity volleyball, Heath Higgins for varsity boys’ and girls’ golf, Regina Griego for varsity cheer squad, and Matthew Tate for volunteer assistant volleyball.