by Ruth Stodghill
PRIMERO — The Primero School Board held its regular monthly meeting at 5:00 p.m. on Dec. 14, focusing on topics including this year’s senior class trip, the 21st Century Community Learning Grant, and a number of expenditures.
In public participation, senior class president Antonio Cordova informed the board about plans for the senior class trip, tentatively planned for San Diegoº. Class treasurer Lance Peters shared details regarding the class’s funding and budget for the trip. Sponsor Roget Diller explained that COVID-19 has hindered the class’s fundraising efforts due to cancelled basketball concessions, but is moving forward with other fundraisers such as Primero merchandise sales. At the end of the presentation, the class formally requested that the board contribute $4,000 to its class fund towards the trip, per board policy.
Geographic Information Systems at Primero
Social studies teacher Ben Gandy spoke with the board about a project he recently completed as a project towards his second Masters degree involving the use of geographic information systems to analyze Primero’s current and historic bus routes, and the possibility and feasibility of revising the district’s bus stops. The project is the result of parents making requests for changes to the bus routes during the 2019-2020 school year. “There is a significant problem with the Cokedale bus route, due to the lack of visibility to the south of the stop due to steep elevation,” said Gandy. Gandy also stated he is teaching GIS to his students; “Instead of just being sponges or receptacles of knowledge, students can use GIS to be producers of knowledge,” Gandy said.
In staff reports, IT Director/Bond Director Richard Garrison spoke with the school board about ongoing repair and warranty work being done by various contractors on the new addition to the school.
Superintendent Bill Naccarato reported to the board regarding how the district is responding to the ongoing challenges of COVID-19. “We are expecting updates from the governor tomorrow about his plans and ideas for the spring semester, and as soon as we get that, we will share that with you,” said Naccarato.
“Everyone keeps asking why Primero is open to in-person instruction when everyone else is closed, and I tell them, it’s because of all of the hard work of our staff towards keeping us open,” said Naccarato.
21st Century Grant to continue
Principal Blake Byall spoke to the board about the district’s ongoing participation in the 21st Century Community Learning Grant program. “We should be able to get our fourth year of funding for the program for next year,” said Byall.
“While our numbers in terms of student participation with the program have gone down somewhat, as we would expect due to COVID-19, they haven’t gone down anywhere as near as much as we would have thought,” Byall said.
“For students who do not show a year’s worth of growth in a year’s worth of time on the NWEA exams, we are looking at requiring out-of-district students to attend summer school,” Byall said.
“The reading scores for the class of 2022 on the PSAT show that eight of nine students are already meeting the state requirements for graduation, and five out of nine qualify in terms of math, so that’s encouraging news,” he said.
“I have some concerns regarding attendance,” Byall said. “Our secondary students are missing on average 5.2 days so far this semester, compared to 4.8 days last semester, which isn’t so bad considering everything going on with COVID-19. However, where I am more concerned is our online students, who may only log in for a short period of time in a class period, and unless their teacher is really on top of things, they are getting full credit for that class period. So I worry that we have secondary students who are missing much more school time than we are currently showing.”
Athletic Director Jose Esquivias informed the board that CHASSA has revised the Season B athletic season, pushing the start of the season back to January 25. “We had games scheduled to start January 15, and this change pushes back our first game to February 1, so we are having to revise our game schedule,” said Esquivias.
Call for board to do more
In round table discussion, board member Laura Saint expressed some concerns: “I am tired of us not accomplishing anything as a board. We talk about doing things each month, and then when we leave here, we do nothing. We have students who are not planning on going to a four year college, but we do not have math or other core classes designed specifically for these students. We need to have our counselor work more with our students, especially our middle schoolers. We need to sit down, the seven of us, and get this accomplished. We need to finish what we start.”
“I agree with you,” said board member Penni Moltrer. “I think we need to meet with the school counselor to see what she is doing to help our students. I’ve had parents call me and complain,” said Moltrer.
“We will have the counselor here to speak with you next month,” said Naccarato.
“And I want to meet in person next month, instead of virtually,” said Moltrer.
“We will meet in whatever way the governor sets forth, according to the rules of the COVID-19 dial we are under,” said Naccarato.
In action items, the board voted to approve a resolution to certify the Mill Levy for 2020.
The board also passed several resolutions for expenditures, including $4,000 per board policy for the senior class trip; $3,274.90 to MGM Excavating for work on drains; $2,250 for Christmas gift cards for staff; $2805.55 to M&M Towing and Repair for needed repairs to Bus #12; and $7,257.25 to NORESCO for heating work, all per the recommendation of Superintendent Naccarato.
The next board meeting was set for Jan. 19 at 5 p.m.