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RE-2 schools get new look; low TCAP scores

by Melissa Ray
LA VETA — A tour of the elementary and high school buildings and grounds during the regular school board meeting of the La Veta School District on Monday night revealed some much needed and greatly appreciated changes.
First on the tour was the high school computer lab. The lab has been moved into the old Spanish classroom in the science building and is fresh and inviting with a new coat of paint.
Next on the tour, the elementary library and the high school library have been brought together in the current location of the high school library. With the help of some talented and dedicated volunteers, the merger will be completed this week. The addition of four new computers to the library was made possible by the 21st Century Learning Center Grant.
The hallway in the science building has been freshly painted and the “stuffed” animal displays have been cleaned.
The basketball goals have been removed in anticipation of the grant award for the Garland Street project and in an effort to keep students off the street. Gaye Davis is fairly confident the school will receive the grant from CDOT. The school’s grant application has been given a number one priority rank for this region. Superintendent Bree Lessar stated the CDOT Regulation Committee’s only concern about the project was the town of La Veta had not yet committed funds it.
On the playground, the familiar slide has been removed. Davis stated there were a couple of $1,000 grants available for playground equipment. There has been no news on the grants, but Davis says that is “usually good news”.
In the elementary school, Ortivez’s fifth grade classroom has been relocated to the previous elementary library site. One reason for the move is so that only Jr. High classrooms will be in the upstairs location to provide that “Junior High feel” for the students.
The new color scheme for the interior of the elementary building is white walls and green trim. Each classroom for first through fourth grade has been given its own primary color painted on the entry door and as an accent color in the classroom. Teachers are really happy with the change.
The new color scheme for the interior of the high school building is tan with brown trim.
There have also been some changes to the grounds making them easier to maintain.
During an Assessment Review of the TCAP 2012 Achievement Data, a transitional assessment of all students in the district from third through twelfth grade, Lessar advised the board that the school came in significantly under their goals for this year. The board and Lessar viewed this as a wake-up call.
Scores in reading, writing and in math were low, with writing and math considerably lower. There has been a decline in writing scores in the last three years. Lessar believes there is something missing in the curriculum. She also believes social media, such as texting, have contributed greatly to the decline in writing skills because they do not require spelling, punctuation, and proper grammar in their use. Board member Kenny Shneider agreed. Lessar stated, “We have to figure out how to make intelligent writers.”
To address the math problem, the school will be doing individualized math improvement plans for each student in the sixth through tenth grades. The school also may be looking at new textbooks for the math program.
The entire staff was surprised by the scores. Because there are only two new teachers, Lessar feels the current teaching staff is strong. Board President Sam Law echoed that sentiment when she stated she felt that, in her five years on the board, there has never been a better staff to address this problem. Lessar stated the administration and staff’s goal is excellence and the TCAP scores are not reflective of thos grades. She also looks forward to the Growth Data as she feels this data gives a more accurate picture of what’s going on.
“We need to protect instructional time. We’ve done enough for student moral and school spirit”, said Lessar. That may mean fewer field trips and not as many pep rallies.
The school will be recruiting parent and community volunteers. There are a few paid positions that could be filled by volunteers. Lessar stated, “There are a variety of talented people in our community who can come in and help our students.” Volunteers will be required to fill out an application and have a background check done. They will then be matched with teachers based on the volunteer’s talents and interests.
The board discussed the potential mill levy override and decided they needed to schedule a meeting with Don Dioness of the George Company next week. Lessar and other members of the Board felt that there is not a lot of community support for the mill levy due to misconceptions about how the board spends the school’s money. The board discussed how to let people know what’s going on and what’s at stake if the mill levy is not passed.
Coaches approved for the fall season are as follows: High School Football-Head Coach, Ron Ortivez with Assistant, Rod Falk; Junior High Football-Head Coach Heath Higgins with Assistant Todd Robbins; High School Volleyball-Head Coach, Brandi Menegatti with Assistants Steve Day, Jessie Martinez, and Sara Martinez; Junior High Volleyball-Head Coach, Brandi Menegatti with Assistant Sara Martinez; High School Cheer-Lindsay Robbins; High School Golf-Wayne Smith.
The Board accepted the resignation of Sara Dearmin, assistant cook, with regret and best wishes and approved the hiring of Barbara Sandoval as assistant cook for the 2012-2013 school year.
The following were approved to continue employment for the 2012-2013 school year: Samantha LaGow, pre-school classroom aide; Kelly McBroom, elementary aide, contingent upon available grant funding through the IOG, which funded the position last year; Fred Ferrari as playground monitor, a position which will be funded by a grant from the Colorado Health Foundation; bus route drivers Eddie Aguirre, Marilyn Morey, and Albert Anselmo.
The board approved the rehiring of Ralph Romero as a route driver for the 2012-13 school year. James Smalley, Jr. was approved to be hired as a part-time custodian for the school year, a position which is funded by the 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant.
Pamela “Doc” Siders was approved to be added to the substitute employee list for both teaching and support positions during the year.
The next regularly scheduled board meeting for the La Veta School District RE-2 is August 27 at 5:30 pm.

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