by Jaye Sudar
WALSENBURG- The RE-1 school board met Wednesday July 20 to consider a number of important issues.
A group of parents is investigating the possibility of converting Gardner School to a charter school, and want to work with the district to make this happen. Liz Schneider gave a presentation on charter schools. Charter schools work with all the state rules and assessments a regular school district follows. They comply with additional rules from the state and have approximately five years to prove their viability.
While receiving between 90 and 97% of their funding through a school district, charter schools are an autonomous entity within a district. The parent district for a charter school receives between 3 and 10% of the funding that a charter school generates, in order to fund administration fees. Charter schools pay for busing, buildings, and other services needed to run the school.
Establishing a charter school can be a very positive experience for the parent district and the charter school. Poor districts receive funds and are able to use buildings that would otherwise be closed. Communities are able to provide magnet schools, gifted and talented schools or more parent and student oriented schools.
The board also met to hear Don Diones of George K. Baum & Company explain further financial information concerning the restructuring of the bonds held by the district. Mr. Diones shared a proposed timetable of events. He also handed out a financial plan that showed the Net Future Value Savings to the district of $196,111.73. Mr. Diones asked for an authorizing agent to be appointed and left that decision up to the board and Superintendent Olson.
A Targeted District Improvement Plan (TDIP) update was given and the Colorado Department of Education gave the district a score of 69%. CDE stated that the district needs to continue TDIP to improve education in Huerfano County. The full report will be available on the district website.
A concern was voiced about keeping teachers and principals in their buildings during student contact time. Meetings, classes, and other activities should be done after school or on Fridays to avoid depriving students of much needed student-teacher contact time. The board agreed that this was vital.
The board recognized Rhonda Kelly with the gift of a crystal bowl for her 19 years of service to the district. They accepted the resignation of Clay Helms. The high school now has a total of nine full and part-time teachers.
Superintendent Olson stated that lights and seating for the Sports complex should be done soon, but money is still needed to finish the locker rooms. In other news, the board approved changes in eight policies, stated that Friday May 25 would be graduation day, approved a foreign exchange student, added a column to the salary schedule for Finance/Food Service Director, approved Betty McDonald as a Title 1 teacher and began a first look at the student handbooks for next year.
Gary M. Vezzani was elected Walsenburg’s mayor in Tuesday’s special mayoral election/recall vote. Preliminary results announced Tuesday night show that both Nick Vigil in Ward