New staff members welcomed
by Patty Unruh
The Gilpin County Board of Education conducted its first meeting of the 2018-19 school year on Tuesday, August 21, at 7:00 p.m. Members Craig Holmes, Brook Ramsey, Sarah Swanson, Kersten Armstrong, and Steve Boulter were present, along with Superintendent David MacKenzie, Secondary Principal Alexis Donaldson, Elementary Principal Heather Huntoon, and Secretary to the Board Joni Schmidt.
Several new staff members have joined the school.
Ann Myers will teach sixth grade language arts. “I am in love with these sixth graders and thrilled to be here,” she said.
Dawn Blake will teach math for sixth through twelfth graders. Blake has resided in Black Hawk for eight years and formerly taught in the Clear Creek district and in Juno, Alaska.
Jackie Walby, fifth grade teacher, originally taught in Montana for ten years.
Mary Kay Morris joins the Montessori staff as a preschool teacher. She grew up in Massachusetts and has a B.S. in occupational therapy.
Katura Sales, a Gilpin graduate, will serve as an athletic trainer, PE instructor for preschool through twelfth grade, and high school health teacher.
The Board approved check vouchers, the financial statement for July 2018, and the human resources report.
The general fund revenue for July 2018 was $256,094 and expenditures were $506,048. Capital projects expenditures were $702,757 in property improvements.
2018 CMAS/ PARCC Results
CMAS/ PARCC and PSAT test data from the end of the 2017-18 school year was reviewed, and the principals and superintendent expressed disappointment that results were not as expected.
The scores reflected that several elementary and middle school grades of Gilpin students were below the state average and not achieving one year’s growth in one year’s time in English language arts and math. PSAT scores for high school students showed tenth and eleventh graders below state average in reading and writing (combined scores) and math.
Secondary Principal Donaldson advised, “The growth is not where it needs to be.”
She said teachers will be meeting with their students to talk about goals for winter and spring testing.
Elementary Principal Huntoon felt that there were a couple of factors leading to the CMAS results being lower than hoped.
“Last year, I had the kids do two tests a day for three days. It burned them out.” She plans to change this schedule to one test per day this year.
Huntoon also said that students had been pulled out of some classes for Lexia reading intervention last year, but the intervention had not been done with fidelity. She plans to have elementary teacher Kathy Kelly pull struggling students out for intervention and monitoring to see what needs to be retaught.
Superintendent MacKenzie advised that the new tests are harder. Also, he said Gilpin classes are small, and even just a few kids can bring scores up or down. High school students are still transitioning from taking the ACT test to taking the SAT.
He advised that grants are available to pay several teachers to do intervention with students who need more help. The strategic plan, Clarity of Vision 2020, will still be used.
“Our kid are not average. So when they are below one year’s growth in one year’s time, that’s not acceptable. No excuses. We can do better, and we will.”
“Every Student Succeeds Act” Grant
The Board reviewed information on the 2018-19 Every Student Succeeds Act Consolidated Programs grant application for the following programs.
A Title I grant is for a reading interventionist’s salary to provide reading strategies for kindergarten through fifth grade students with identified reading problems. The grant amount is $20,475.
A Title II grant of $5,659 would provide for professional development for the elementary principal and teachers.
A Title IV grant of $9,434 would provide teaching staff and administrators with training on technology to use in the classroom.
The Board examined a draft of the 2018-19 charges to the District Accountability Committee (DAC). The charges included Teacher and Principal Effectiveness Evaluation Model and Process, Unified Improvement Plans, Nutrition and Wellness policy, Gifted and Talented program delivery, 2019-20 proposed District budget expenditures, and others.
The DAC members are to review these items and come to a September meeting of the school board with recommendations on what they think the charges should be.
DAC meetings are open to the public, and its minutes are posted on the school website. The first meeting will be in September. The committee consists of about 12 to 15 members, including parents, teachers, patrons, and the two principals. Dick Vickery and Mary Lorenz are co-chairs this year.
Four-Day Week Approved
The Colorado Department of Education approved Gilpin’s request for a four-day week, which is less than 160 scheduled school days for the 2018-19 school year.
The Superintendent and Board continue the process of reviewing old policies. Board members will meet on Wednesday, August 29, to go through 32 policies.
The Colorado Association of School Board Region 8 fall meeting in Leadville takes place on September 5. Board members were unable to commit to attend yet, but would consult their schedules and advise Joni Schmidt.
Donaldson reported on the Vail summit for teachers that took place this summer, how the first week of school went, and Back to School Night. Secondary staff will focus on what goals to set for high-achieving students and how to push middle achievers.
Huntoon had 11 teachers at a summer workshop at the school. She said there was 86 percent parent attendance at conferences Monday.
Rec Center After-School Busing
The Gilpin Community Center (GCC) provides an after-school youth camp for grades K-6 and teen after-school program for students from ages 12-17. GCC is striving to provide structure and safety to youth in the teen group who visiting the center during this time. MacKenzie advised that this seems to be working smoothly.
However, he said, “The Rec does not want kids dropped off at the ball field for soccer practice due to liability. So the school bus continues to drop them off at the Rec Center for after school time.”
Board member Holmes wants a conversation with the GCC director for an explanation, stating that the ball field is a legally authorized bus stop, but Swanson advised that it is not listed on the school bus routes.
Swanson noted that the GCC was advised by legal counsel not to allow the bus to drop children off at the field and have them unsupervised. She said coaches were not included as supervisors. If a parent signs a waiver, though, a coach can transport them from the GCC to the field. Kids 12 years old and older are allowed to walk from the GCC to the field, crossing Highway 46 to do so.
Other Board members were not pleased with the possibility of children crossing Highway 46 and said they would rather have their kids dropped off by a trained bus driver. Since GCC had legal advice not to have the kids taken to the field by bus, the school would assume liability if they dropped students there, members said.
“It’s been done this way for 15 years,” Swanson said of the bus taking students to the field. “The change was made without communicating it. Most parents are adjusting, though.”
MacKenzie noted that this year’s enrollment is 478 so far. Last year’s official October count was 488. He felt the electronic registration at Back to School Night went well in the first attempt to reduce paper usage in that process.
The football field is ready for this Friday night’s game. MacKenzie does not have a definite date when work will be finished on the track – “it will be sometime in September.” The fence is partially in place. The atrium steps project was to be discussed in executive session. Bleachers will be done next summer.
Lee Ramsey and Joe Stranaly of the Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office and personnel from three other agencies conducted three days of active shooter training this summer.
The Peak to Peak Players, a new outside children’s theatre group, held a camp in July and presented “The Wizard of Oz” to the community. The group will be able to rent the school facility, just as other outside groups do, and the kids can have a great theatre experience, MacKenzie said.
The wireless system is being updated. The Internet was down for the first couple of school days because a switch went out. It has been replaced.
The Board met in executive session regarding specialized details of security arrangements or investigations, negotiation matters, and personnel matters.
The next public meeting will be on Tuesday, September 4, at 7:00 p.m.