Seven running for four seats on RE-1 Valley School Board

Seven running for four seats on RE-1 Valley School Board

The race is on for the RE-1 Valley School Board, with seven candidates running for four seats.

During a business meeting Monday, Superintendent Shila Adolf explained that legally candidates remain confidential until an affidavit is signed and brought to the district office. There was someone who showed up wanting to run for District 2, but it was past the deadline, and that name can’t be released until an affidavit is completed.

At this point, the following candidates have submitted affidavits: District 1 – Dennis Kaan, Kevin Koester and Steven E. Shinn; District 2 – Ronda Monheiser; District 5 – Riste Capps and Heather Harris; and District 6 – Michelle Sharp.

In other business, under action items, the board approved the consent agenda, which included minutes, second reading of policies KB and KBA, and employee contracts; financials; and policy JICDD, violent and aggressive behavior, on first reading. The only revisions to the policy were some minor word changes.

During principal updates, administrators spoke about ongoing work related to Capturing Kids Hearts, a program that has been adopted districtwide to increase student engagement, decrease classroom disruptions, build relationships, and improve student outcomes.

As part of this program, staff and students have created social contracts and developed goals. At Sterling Middle School the goal, which was developed during a professional development day earlier this month, is “to provide all students with a positive, safe learning environment where students can grow into productive lifelong learners.” As part of that day, staff also came up with their own “walk-up songs,” for example Principal Bob Hall’s was “Thunderstruck.”

At Campbell Elementary, teachers have been implementing various CKH activities as well, “that has been really fun to get to know kids on a deeper level,” said Principal Brenda Kloberdanz. They are also trying to uplift staff with a post-it note challenge, where they write a positive post-it note to one of their colleagues and anonymously post it on their door or in their classroom somewhere.

Additionally, at Hagen Early Education Center, director Stephanie Mitchell said “our Sunshine Committee is in full force, they’re spreading sunshine, positive affirmations and improving the culture in our building.”

“Capturing Kids Hearts is off to a great start, it’s something that I think is super positive for our district. In fact today, with induction teachers, we were talking about signals for controlling classroom management and several of them do the time-out signal, a non-verbal signal where kids know, stop, we need to redirect and those things. Seeing a lot of it implemented, teachers ran with it. There’s no problem, I’ve heard zero complaints from staff on it,” Adolf said.

Principals also gave an enrollment update: Sterling High School has 488 students, including 31 in RE#ONE Pathways; Caliche School has 253 students; SMS has 415 students; Campbell has 408 students; Hagen Early Education Center and Caliche Preschool have 119 students; and Ayres Elementary has 366 students.

In other business, Adolf gave an update on the strategic plan the district is working on.

“Something that we’ve talked about a lot is the real need for a strategic plan that helps the district identify and measure what accomplishments you’re actually achieving and this district’s been without one for a very long time. So, that will be the charge of the District Advisory Committee connected with the Building Advisory Committees, is to set very measurable targets to say what do we want our district to look like, what is a successful school district,” she said.

Parents and community members are always wanted to join the DAC and BACs; you can contact the district or your child’s school to get involved. Adolf the board that she will be stipending teachers on these committees, because it’s another duty as assigned.

Related to the strategic plan, some of the things Adolf is working on include fixing the budget.

“When I came in we inherited a disastrous budget, that’s something you’re probably aware of, that’s why teachers were frozen for so long, trying to get that in order has been a big mission. Glenn Gustafson was hired on an ex-officio basis to support Nichole Eastin’s transition; we’re working aggressively to put process in procedures,” she said, telling the board. “I think you’ll see in even the monthly financials a better approach showing what’s happening in the district by month and by building. It’s pretty shocking if you run numbers by building, one of the concerns I have is whether or not we have control over repeating  expenditures, recurring expenditures, that’s a real concern and then whether or not we understand the FTE per building, what should be staffed in each building going forward.”

The strategic plan also includes looking at student support programs. Adolf mentioned when came to the district, RE-1 had four state-level complaints that it was able to walk back and it now has an action plan of how to improve things, which will be part of the strategic plan.

“We’ll be looking at special education, which CDE (Colorado Department of Education) joined us last year in that journey, we did the intensity study. We’ll continue to work on that, for gifted and talented, ELL and Title I, so we have really true identified plans that are appropriately implemented with statute, they’re archived, there’s data to drive those plans, then we fund them, we make sure that there’s a budget steam that matches them and then we monitor that data to show improvement,” Adolf said.

She also mentioned the Student Leadership Advisory Committee is up and running; 20 from Caliche High School and nine from SHS signed up for the first meetings. Adolf is excited to get them connected with Representative Bacon and Senator Jerry Sonnenberg.

“It’s so nice to see those kids ready to take action,” Adolf said. “We have so many people willing to listen to our rural kids, I think it’s time to put them in a position to talk to them about what does this mean, especially as we move forward with things on assessment, accountability framework. There are things that are happening right now that impact rural schools differently than say it might be trying to fix a Front Range problem. “

The superintendent also mentioned the exit surveys that were conducted with staff at the end of last school year. She contacted her legal counsel and board president Dennis Kaan contacted the district’s legal counsel and both were told that not all documents are required to be given to the board sd they are not public record.

“The reason I hesitated was you could identify specific teachers that have come back and I was afraid to edit it, because then I would be accused of editing out things and truthfully I’d like you to read some of the nice things too in there. So, we’re looking at what format can we present it,” Adolf told the board.

She shared that she has met with principals overarchingly on things with like culture and climate that need improved, things that the district can give them that they wouldn’t know it was from a specific staff member.

“We spent a lot of time together in July, hours upon hours at our retreat talking about how we were going to improve the culture and climate and making sure we’re monitoring our staff, how well they feel appreciated, how much we can refill their toolbox,” Adolf said.

During public comments at the end of the meeting, South Platte Education Association Co-Presidents Marybeth Skerjanec and Janelle Nicolaus shared that there are numerous issues that they’ve tried to bring forward to talk about that aren’t being addressed, payroll being a major issue for their constituency. They would like to know about COVID leave, remote pay, when they will be given a substitute list, when longevity pay will be given, etc. Adolf told them the longevity pay was always going to go out in October, but they said contracts didn’t say that, just that it would go out after the budget was set.

They requested a face-to-face meeting, not a Zoom meeting, with Adolf and if that’s not possible to meet in executive session with the board since that is the chain of command.

“These aren’t my issues, these aren’t Janelle’s issues, these are the issues that they have brought to us,” Skerjanec told the board.

The board also heard from a parent frustrated with board members being allowed to attend the meeting via Zoom, but that not being an option any longer for the public.

There was no comment from the board on any of the remarks.

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