Colorado Association of School Boards represents education interests to legislature
by Patty Unruh
The Gilpin County Board of Education held its regular meeting on Tuesday, October 2, at 7:00 p.m. All Board members were present: Craig Holmes, Brook Ramsey, Sarah Swanson, Kersten Armstrong, and Steve Boulter. Superintendent David MacKenzie and Secretary to the Board Joni Schmidt were also present.
Congratulations and Celebrations
The shed for football equipment has arrived and is installed on the field.
The varsity volleyball team had two wins last week. The middle school volleyball team is undefeated.
The high school football team got its first touchdown on the new field during the game with Soroco on September 22.
The lane lines have been painted on the new track.
CASB Delegate Assembly Background
The 78th Annual Delegate Assembly of the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) will be held Saturday, October 20, in Colorado Springs. Board member Swanson will attend as a delegate from the Gilpin school district. The Assembly is made up of 178 delegates who are designated by their local school boards in 12 geographic regions throughout Colorado. Each board casts one vote on resolutions that CASB supports.
According to CASB literature, “The Delegate Assembly is the foundation of CASB’s governance structure and provides critical direction as CASB represents members’ interests before state and national policy-makers.”
Among other purposes, the Assembly “adopts CASB’s advocacy agenda, the legislative ‘road map’ for issues critical to public education for the foreseeable future.”
Representatives of several school districts on the 2018 CASB Legislative Resolutions Committee proposed items for the Assembly to consider at its upcoming meeting. The Gilpin School Board members held considerable discussion on several of the measures before agreement was reached on whether or not to support.
Resolution #2 – Restoration of Governmental Immunity. CASB supports repeal of the Claire Davis School Safety Act, which removed governmental immunity from school districts and held them responsible for school shootings. The CASB rationale was that removing immunity increases school districts’ insurance and other costs.
Resolution #6 – “CASB urges the U.S. Congress to amend the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act to include an exception for the administration of non-psychoactive cannabinoid oils to students on school grounds under medical supervision when recommended by a treating physician.”
CASB rationale stated that Colorado House bills allow school personnel to administer non-smokeable medical marijuana to students whose parents have given permission and that the bills contain limitations regarding administration.
“Providing an exception in federal law would allow schools to apply the same constraints used for the administration of all other medications during the school day,” the rationale said.
Armstrong took exception to the school’s storing and providing these oils and putting a burden on staff members for administering them, while Boulter noted that cannabis seems to work for kids with seizures. It was also noted that staff members administer epi pens, medication for ADHD, and the like. Eventually the Board voted “yes” on the resolution.
Resolution #7 – “CASB supports a change in existing law to provide that new oil and gas operations should be placed no closer than 1,000 feet from school outdoor activity areas. The local board of education should have control over whether to designate certain parts of its school properties as outdoor activity areas.”
This resolution is pertinent, with Proposition 112 on minimum distance requirements for new oil, gas, and fracking projects on the ballot this fall.
The Board voted “yes” after discussion. At issue in the CASB resolution was what constituted an “outdoor activity area.” Currently, the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s policy gives a 1,000-foot setback around school buildings but fails to take into consideration outdoor areas such as playgrounds, physical education space, and so forth.
Holmes disagreed with the premise but said, “I cherish local governmental control.”
Boulter also disagreed with the resolution, saying he would leave it up to the Oil and Gas Commission’s standards.
Swanson supported having the setback include more than just the building.
Resolution #9 – CASB is urging the Colorado General Assembly to develop legislation that prohibits use of cell phones, both voice and text, in school zones unless in a legally parked vehicle or on foot in a pedestrian area.
The Board first voted “no” and then on later discussion changed to a “yes” vote. The members comments included: texting and driving is against the law, who would enforce it, it’s a personal rights issue, and it would be good for safety.
Resolution #10 – Colorado Department of Education (CDE) should establish an office to support the recruitment and hiring of teachers in small, rural school districts. The Board voted “no.” MacKenzie said the current process of referring prospective teaching candidates to Teachers-Teachers.com was not helpful to Gilpin.
“Most of the applicants who use this site are from out of state. We become their travel agent, because they don’t know where Black Hawk is. They just want to play in the mountains. They work here a year and then want to go to Jeffco or Boulder Valley.” He said the district used to use the site but dropped its use. The issue is that there are not enough candidates.
The Board quickly voted “yes” on resolutions supporting school funding. CASB argues that structural change is needed in how the state funds K-12 education, stating that constitutional provisions like TABOR and Gallagher have put a significant strain on the state budget.
“This has caused the Colorado General Assembly to subject K-12 education to significant budget cuts …” stated Resolution #12.
Resolution #19 – “CASB will advocate, upon the approval of Amendment 73 by Colorado voters, for the first 6 months of tax collections to be invested in the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program to support desperately needed school capital construction projects.”
The Board members noted that they did not have enough information on why this specific fund was mentioned by CASB, but Holmes said a “yes” vote would express the Board’s intention to support funds going to education.
Resolution #20 – “CASB will advocate for changes in state law to require that a minimum of an additional $5 million per year be allocated during each of the next ten budget years, from marijuana excise tax collections … to allow the BEST program to continue multi-year financial of large-scale capital facilities improvement projects …”
The Board voted “yes,” noting that the funds are mainly for “dilapidated rural schools.”
“BEST is a bucket of money,” Holmes said. “We’ve filed for grants but aren’t dilapidated, so we’ve never been granted any.”
Resolution #24 – “CASB urges the Colorado General Assembly to continue to fund educator preparation programs … to reduce and eventually eliminate current and future educator shortages.” The resolution stated that as many as 3,000 teaching jobs across Colorado are unfilled.
Resolution #30 – “CASB believes that it is imperative the State of Colorado officially recognize dyslexia as a disability, fund support for students with this disability and specify … intervention which requires one-on-one and special training.”
The Board abstained for lack of information. They were uncertain how many students have dyslexia but felt the number was “pretty high.” They said it would pose quite an impact on the special education staff and wanted to know what the monetary impact would be. Some students already have an IEP (Individualized Education Program) even if not diagnosed, but others that have dyslexia don’t qualify for an IEP.
The request for reconsideration of accreditation is due on October 15.
A final walk-through on the track and field project was done with Hellas Construction on September 26. The fence is 80 percent done; more gates and some clean-up are still needed.
The new track and field will be dedicated on Friday, October 12, during halftime of the homecoming football game, which begins at 7:00 p.m.
The district will support Amendment 73. MacKenzie will get the Board’s resolution and a fact sheet on the school website and will put it in the Weekly Register-Call.
The technical staff is researching electrical operating systems that are more updated and efficient on HVAC, burglar alarms, lighting, and door locks. A base system is sought that can grow with add-ons.
The next Board meeting will be Tuesday, October 16, at 7:00 p.m.