Gilpin School Board extends mask mandate for final 30 days
By Curt Halsted
Superintendent Dr. David MacKenzie opened the April 6th Gilpin County School Board meeting by sharing that school has been in session 96 days. With 82% of students back for in-person learning, Gilpin Schools will continue to require masks for the last 30 days of school. This decision followed the executive order from the state extending the mask mandate, as well as a continuation order from the Gilpin County Commissioners.
Testing Schedule Amended by State Legislature
With school winding down, it is time for year-end assessments. There will be fewer tests given this year as the Colorado State Legislature signed a bill directing the Colorado Department of Education to submit a waiver to the United States Department of Education reducing the testing load in Grades 3-8. The approved waiver requires students in grades 3, 5, and 7 to take the Language Arts CMAS test, while grades 4, 6 and 8 will take the Math CMAS assessment. Eighth grade students will also take the CMAS Science test. As in past years parents can opt their students out of the testing, but this year they can also opt them in to taking assessments not required for their grade level. The schedule for the PSAT and SAT testing for high school students will continue as in the past. Tests will only be administered in person, so students who are participating in the remote learning offered by Gilpin teachers will have to take the assessments in person at the school or opt out. Remote families need to contact their principal to share their decision.
Meet and Confer to Continue for Teacher Salaries
Dawn Blake, a Gilpin teacher and parent, spoke for the Gilpin Teachers Association. She urged the board to schedule a second meeting pointing out it has been a month since the last one. Board member Joe Marr assured her they are busy doing research, while board president Steve Boulter said that their top priority has been working on salary and budget proposals. Ms. Blake praised the quality of the school, but pointed out that without competitive salaries that she feared that could change. The next Meet and Confer meeting was scheduled for April 13th at 2 pm. A work session on salaries for the whole board will also be part of the next meeting agenda.
Policy for Support of Students who are Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Tabled
Board member Cherokee Blake shared concerns she had with some of the wording in the policy as to the accessibility by transgender and gender non-conforming students to bathrooms, and locker rooms matching their sexual identity. She said that while their “should be no discrimination,” she also wanted to make sure that “all students would not be discriminated against” if they were uncomfortable with transgender students access to shared facilities. Dr. MacKenzie said that the wording she was questioning says what it says, but pointed out that it goes on to say that each situation should be decided individually and that the needs in each situation should take in consideration the physical construction of the school. He said while changes may happen to Gilpin’s facility in the future, considering the way the school is built the school has opted to provide separate facilities as an alternative to shared bathroom and locker room spaces. The motion to pass the policy was tabled until the next meeting to review the wording of the policy.
School Leases Space to United Power
Dr. Mackenzie shared that work is continuing on an underground electric line being installed by United Power for an emergency generator to benefit the schools and the neighboring community during power outages. The diesel powered back-up generator will be located next to the bus barn and will also occasionally be used to back up greater energy needs during peak usage times.
The meeting went into executive session to plan strategies for conferring on salaries and budget.