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RE-1 Board approves ESSER III grant spending for district IT upgrade

by Jaye Sudar
WALSENBURG — At the regular meeting of the Huerfano RE-1 School Board on Monday July 12, the board heard that funds from the ESSER III Grant, which total nearly $2,680,000 for the district, will pay for upgrades for the district’s phone system and servers.  The board approved a capital purchase not to exceed $21,000 for a new VOIP telephone system to replace the old mishmash of systems now in place. The new system, which will be hosted ‘in house’, will allow better communications between buildings, staff, students, and parents. It will also be compliant with 911 and other safety protocols.

The board also approved a capital purchase not to exceed $13,500 for two new servers, and accessories. The servers will replace five servers, and expand the capabilities of the district’s online learning programs, and expand the IT capabilities necessary for education. All of these funds of which the district must spend by 2023, are the result of Covid-19 Relief grants.

BEST Grant update
Members of the district’s Master Planning Committee, who form the executive committeee of the Design Advisory Group (DAG), met with the owner’s representative, Artaic, and Wold Architect to begin the process of working through the BEST Grant’s ‘Welcome Package” as Superintendent Mike Moore put it. There are a number of items that must be done in order, and by deadlines outlined in the package. Moore stated that it is a little intimidating at first, but can be tackled systematically. The first deadline is July 22.  By then, the environmental site assessment must be done.  The district also needs a zoning letter and assigned street address for the new building from the City of Walsenburg for the new building by then. Moore stated that he would be ‘chasing people down’ to comply with the new address deadline.

The DAG itself, comprised of district staff, board members, parents, and students, will be hosting community meetings and workshops with the board to help design the new school. The first community meeting will be in August.

Board workshop
President Gretchen Sporleder-Orr advised that July 26 will be a mandatory workshop. This workshop will be about the new building, the regulations, planning, and general information needed by the board. This will be the beginning of the Master Plan for the new school. Wold and Artaic will be there as well. The workshop will start at 5:30 p.m.

Bus issues
Transportation Director Gary Vigil informed the board that the new bus will be ready by November. As the schools opened back up, bus purchases have increased to meet demand.  He also stated that the district needs new bus drivers.  A CDL is preferred.  If new bus drivers are not found, the district may need to cut routes. As per the charter agreement, Gardner Valley School could possibly be the first route to be cut. In addition, with the return of after school activities, sports games, and concurrent enrollment classes, the district’s capabilities to transport students is being stretched to the limit.
CDE License change

Due to COVID-19, the license renewal process has been changed. Instead of five years to gain the necessary credits, Colorado Department of Education is giving teachers an additional two years to gain the credits needed to renew their licenses. This was warmly greeted as the pandemic put a stop to the educational retreats, conventions, and classes used by teachers to earn said credits.

In other business
Moore thanked Lorna Eddleman for all of her hard work, and overcoming adversity caused by the loss of her computer’s hard drive. He also thanked the IT department, Manuel Lujan and Dan Harper, for their work at diagnosing the issue, and finding a solution.

The board approved Ricardo Bobian as head football coach for John Mall High School, and Antone Aldretti as assistant football coach. Jennifer Vialpando will be the head volleyball coach, and Clara White as assistant coach. John Kelly was hired as a maintenance custodian beginning August 2, 2021.

The board approved the Notice of Intent for the Huerfano RE-1 School District to participate in the Coordinated Election on November 2, 2021.  The district will have five school board seats open at that time. More information on petitions, and duties of a school board member will be featured next week.

In a last minute agenda addition, the board approved an overnight Band Leadership Retreat on August 7 and 8, 2021.  This will be held at the Sporleder Ranch just outside Aguilar, CO, and will allow for the new high school band teacher, Katie Knutson, and the students to get to know one another, while also preparing the band for the upcoming year.

In addition to bus route drivers, the district is in need of a school nurse and substitute personnel. For more information, contact the district office.