LA VETA — In front of a rather large audience at the La Veta Board of Education meeting, the La Veta FFA gave a brief run down of their Ag tour over spring break. The students were introduced to several types of agriculture in other states. The students then invited each board member to their awards banquet to be held Friday, May 2 at 5:30 pm at the Huerfano County Barn. FFA Creede speaker Carissa Cardenas recited the Creede for the Board; she will be representing La Veta at the state competition in May. Pat Keeling, who has been the sponsor for the La Veta Science Fair teams, reported achievements at the regional and state science fair. Ten of twenty students who attended the regional science fair in La Junta placed first. Three projects moved on to the state competition in Fort Collins. Vinny Ozzello and Tucker Shrout received a grand award 3rd place for their team project in Plant Science. Rachelle Andreatta received a Special Award from the American Meteorological Society for
excellence in atmospheric science research, for her project “Predicting the Weather.” Cassie Blew won Honorable Mention in the grand awards category for her project “Amazing Robots 2: Color Code.” Moving on to other business, the board approved the week of May 5-9 as Teacher Appreciation Week. As the board moved and seconded the recommendation to not renew the contract of Assistant Principal Lori Utley, Utley asked for permission to address the board. “ Utley stated she felt her voice had not been heard in events which led to the decision to not renew her contract. She summarized her experience over the last year emphasizing that while she started off with duties of an Assistant Principal, she later acquired more assignments in addition to her job description, for example, Varsity volleyball coach and district assessment coordinator. As part of her job decription, she conducted teacher evaluations, but she felt that her recommendations in at least one instance were not followed. In addition, the administrative work she was responsible for with the 21st Century Learning Grant was unexpectedly transferred to someone else. She went on to say; “I asked for but never received weekly sit down meetings with the principal, and most discussions with her seemed more of an inconvenience for her rather than a professional collegial experience.” She then offered a list of target areas for improvement in 2014-15 school year. Utley thanked the board for the opportunity to speak. The board then unanimously approved the recommendation to not renew Utley’s contract. The board discussed changing the school mascot and name and decided to have a community forum on the subject. It will take place at their next meeting to be held on May 12 in the school gym. Public discussion will be from 6-7pm, and each individual who wants to speak will have a two-minute time limit. The board is hoping to take action on this matter at their May 27th meeting. In other business, the board approved the hiring of Ken Arnold as a part- time, long-term substitute teacher for the 2014-2015 school year, and gave the go ahead for Superintendent Bree Lessar to continue to pursue an “Early Childhood Program” which if approved by the district, will possibly add an all-day educational/daycare to the district’s current pre-school program. The La Veta Board of Education will meet again on May 12 in the school library at 5 pm; however they will adjourn to the school gym at 6 pm for the public discussion. Teachers, staff, parents, students, and community members are all encouraged to attend.