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“Once upon a time, there were some fifth grade story writers”

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schoolkids_FairyTalesGilpin School Board student presentation

by Patty Unruh

The Gilpin County Board of Education had its regular meeting on Tuesday, April 19. All Board members were present: Craig Holmes, Brook Ramsey, Charlotte Taylor, Kersten Armstrong, and Steve Boulter. Superintendent David MacKenzie, Secondary Principal Alexis Donaldson, and Secretary to the Board Gretchen Sechler were also present.

Congratulations and Celebrations

“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” was performed in April. The Spanish classes received second place in World Language Day competition. PARCC and CMASS testing was finished, and Donaldson thanked the Booster Club for providing breakfast during the seven days of testing, including Lisa Kennedy and Lisa Boulter, who helped all seven days.

The PTA provided breakfasts for elementary students during their testing also.

Holmes gave a “shout out” to the baseball team, saying that if they won their game on April 20, they would be in first place.

Fairy Tale Writers

Vanessa Grenader, fifth grade teacher, and a few of her class members showed what they learned during a unit on fairy tales.

Dominic Anderson reported that the class wrote their own original fairy tales after first reading classics such as “The Three Little Pigs” and “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” Many tales have common elements, he said, such as patterns of three, introductions of “once upon a time,” and “happily ever after” conclusions. The class went to Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden to see “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

Sarah Lovett explained that the class used graphic organizers to learn about elements like character and plot. “We used as many elements as possible in our stories,” she said.

Skyley Ramsey explained the Zoo Burst computer program the class used to create digital pop-up books once they had written their tales.

Those students, joined by classmate Kylar Lamer, displayed and read their computerized fairy tales. Each was very entertaining and included pop-up scenes, complete with morals, humor, and literary devices like similes.

Grenader noted that the students are going to share their stories with Gilpin’s kindergartners.

Public Participation

Terrye Lovett addressed the Board regarding two matters. She first asked whether a program provided through the Mt. Evans BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) would be ending on April 23, as she had heard. She then offered her opinion on the book Mindset by Carol Dweck, saying it was a book that should be read by all school employees. “It talks about the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. The world is changing, and we need to change with it,” Lovett said.

World Language Day

Secondary Spanish teacher Su Henry reported on the results of her classes’ participation in World Language Day on April 14. The event took place at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. About 500 people from 40 schools around Colorado and Southern Wyoming were represented. Gilpin sent 40 students, four parents, and teacher Henry.

Henry said Gilpin students won second place and came home with three trophies and a ribbon, which she brought to show. There were various competitions, including a short “Who Am I” speech, a Heritage speech, a show and tell portion, and a performance of “Don Quixote.” Additionally, her Spanish III class performed a humorous skit they created, winning third place of ten entries.

Consent Items

The Board approved the business manager’s report, check vouchers, financial statement for March, and quarterly financial report for the first quarter of 2016. Business Manager Terry Scharg said the budget is in line with projections, but it will be necessary to prepare a supplemental budget to accommodate additional expenditures, such as convenience store employees, additional training, and additional maintenance items.

The School Finance Act was introduced in the House during the week of April 4; the bill adjusts for inflation of 1.2 percent and leaves the negative factor at $830 million. Base per pupil funding would be adjusted by $75.51.

General fund revenue for March was $861,293. Expenditures were $419,295.

Salary Step Increase

The Board approved a salary step increase for a year of experience for all employees for the 2016-17 school year. In cases where an employee is at the top of the scale, a 2 percent increase will be awarded.

Health Care

Board-paid health care and dental benefits for all employees were approved as part of the District-paid benefits package for the 2016-17 school year.

Early Childhood Transition Agreement

The Board approved a Letter of Agreement (LOA) between Triad Early Childhood Council (Triad) and the District. The purpose is to help children adjust quickly from preschool to kindergarten in order to reach their full potential. Some of the goals named in the LOA are to improve availability and quality of services for children, to promote collaboration regarding shared use of resources, to coordinate activities and policies, and to address potential “achievement gaps.”

Triad is the Early Childhood Council for the counties of Clear Creek, Gilpin, and Jefferson and is part of a system designated under Colorado law “to improve … outcomes for young children,” said the LOA.

Gilpin’s District has a traditional elementary program and a Montessori program, both of which include a preschool program and full-day kindergarten.

It is expected that District and Triad staff and teachers will communicate with each other; that teachers will get information about activities and materials used by Triad; that families will be engaged; and that kindergarten teachers will be encouraged to make direct contact with families and/or conduct home visits.

Collaborative efforts between the District and Triad would include information about standards and assessments, professional development training, and health development strategies to ensure that children’s physical, mental, and emotional health needs are met.

Triad council members would be included on relevant district committees, according to the LOA. This would potentially include Gilpin’s District Accountability Committee, which possibility was discussed by the Board.

Board member Taylor questioned the inclusion of Rollinsville as part of the area served by the Gilpin School District; MacKenzie noted that some students are drawn from there, and Board member Holmes suggested striking mention of Rollinsville from the LOA.

Secondary Principal’s Report

Donaldson said an Earth Day presentation was held on April 18 for all secondary students.

Prom is Friday, April 22, at the Denver Aquarium. Booster Club will sponsor after-prom at the school.

Snowdodgers ski club will have their last trip to Loveland on April 22. Donaldson thanked Dusty Newberg and the other teachers for making Snowdodgers a great experience for the students.

schoolkids_FairyTalesUnified Improvement Plan

MacKenzie submitted the District’s Unified Improvement Plan for 2015-16 to the Colorado Department of Education on April 15. The plan showed an upward trend, he said, and is a “living document,” meaning that it can be amended. Challenges in increasing student achievement were noted. Not all teachers were using aligned curriculum, using research-based teaching strategies, or progress-monitoring the students, according to the report. The District’s strategy to correct this is to have professional learnings meetings to provide teachers with resources to align instruction to Colorado standards and to monitor student progress to provide intervention or enrichment. The report noted a change from the TCAP test in 2013 and 2014 to the new and different PARCC test in 2015; increases in achievement should be apparent in 2016. ACT test results and graduation rates for Gilpin were higher than the state averages.

Capital Improvement Plans

MacKenzie updated the Board on site improvement plan research, noting that work on the south parking lot and the elementary playground are the priorities, but additional improvements are also planned, including the addition of a track around the football field. MacKenzie said pricing was needed on labor and ground cover for the playground and three bids would be needed. The area for the small children will be replaced, and new equipment will be purchased for the older elementary children. Several photos of playground equipment and proposed prices provided by a company called Beyond Your Ordinary were submitted for the Board’s perusal.

“We’ll be in the $75,000 to $100,000 range, when all is said and done,” MacKenzie advised, adding that the project will stretch over the next three to five years. School Resource Officer Lee Ramsey is assisting with research.

May Meetings

Meetings in May will be held on Tuesday, May 3, and on Monday, May 16, both at 7:00 p.m.

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