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RE-1 makes painful cuts

by Jaye Sudar

WALSENBURG– Despite numerous work sessions on the budget, the RE-1 board voted on the same list of cuts proposed earlier this year by building administrators and the superintendent.  Directors Bobian, Ortiz and Valerio cast ′no′ votes because they felt there were still alternatives that could be explored.

    The budget cuts deleted the following: the Assistant Principal position at John Mall, O&E secretary/aide position, one technology position, and stipends for assistant coaches. Two teachers will not return next year and will not be replaced. One teaching position will be moved from the General Fund to Title 1. The Art program at Peakview, the Auto program and the Woods program will be suspended. This will be a savings across the district of $438,925.15.

    After a vote that passed by a narrow margin, some members of the board and the audience searched for causes for the financial shortfall. Over the years auditors have stated that the district was healthy financially. Most agreed that it is the budgetary crisis in the state of Colorado which has caused every district in the state to make deep budget cuts such as those voted on at this meeting.

    Doc Siders recognized students or staff of the month. The students were Alex Sample and Tiffany Trujillo. Staff members recognized were Elizabeth Brown, Michele Starling, Michael Glidden, Clay Helms and Deb Striegel.

    All schools have finished CSAP′s and are looking forward to spring break next week. John Mall High School is working hard on the Drive Smart Huerfano County program to promote safe driving, especially just before Prom. Gardner School′s carnival is coming up soon as well as a variety of other programs. Peakview has the book fair, family literacy night and a family fun luau night coming up in April.

    Linda Bennet, George Purnell, and Doc Siders were hired as administrators for the district after a prolonged executive session. The board also accepted with regret the resignations of Linda Jardine and Liz Schneider, both from Gardner School.

    In other business, the board approved four policies, one of which was the new cell phone/pager/iphone policy. Two overnight trips were approved for track and the senior class. The district will dispose of the old bleachers with the help of the county. Approval was given for Washington School to be recognized as having historical significance. The district will not move towards historical designation, until such time as a project merits it.

    Approval was also given to work with CDE on a BEST grant (Building Excellent Schools Today) which requires matching funds to bring the high school up to ADA standards.  The school is out of compliance at this time. The grant would cover locker rooms, bathrooms and bleachers at John Mall. CDE recommended a master plan or strategic plan to aid the district in goal planning.

    The board approved next year′s calendar, including a trip to Germany next year for juniors and seniors who wish to participate, extra duty assignments in sports and the hiring of a new business teacher.

    Items up for discussion at the next meeting are an override election which could generate up to $999,000 for the district although the board was considering less than half that amount, mileage payments to parents, and a school bus route to Gardner from Walsenburg. It was noted that there are 12 students interested in addition to those already attending Gardner from Walsenburg. The proposed bus route would leave Walsenburg and run up to Gardner on a daily basis. Further investigation of these issues will be done at the next meeting.