CASB weighs in on election issues
By Patty Unruh
The Gilpin County Board of Education met October 6 for its regular meeting. Members present included President Craig Holmes, Brook Ramsey, Charlotte Taylor, Kersten Armstrong, and Steve Boulter. Superintendent David MacKenzie and Secretary to the Board Robin Cortez were also present.
Art teacher Curt Halsted appeared with secondary student Julia Blohm for October’s installment of the Gilpin County RE-1 Board of Education Artist Recognition Program. The program debuted last month with a work by elementary student Sterling O’Sullivan.
Halsted said the students had done a “line unit,” finding how lines connect. Blohm’s work is an oil pastel featuring a tree at sunset, which Halsted praised for “showing awesome lines.” The painting will be displayed on the wall in the Board room, along with O’Sullivan’s painting. New artwork will join these paintings each month.
Blohm is an exchange student from Germany.
Congratulations and Celebrations
MacKenzie said he appreciated Halsted’s work in putting together the artist recognition program and the visual arts instruction for the students. Referring to the two artist pieces that now graced the Board room wall, Holmes said, “The standard has been set high.”
Boulter congratulated Ramsey on doing a great job on the anti-bullying run that took place the previous Sunday morning.
The girls’ volleyball teams were congratulated on recent wins, and the high school football team received praised for their win against Nederland.
Elementary Substitute Approval
The Board approved Aracelia Ramos-Knaus as an elementary substitute teacher.
CASB Fall Conference
Taylor had attended the annual fall conference and delegate assembly of the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB). The theme of this year’s conference was “Leadership in Action.” Speaking about election issues, Taylor noted that the delegates passed a resolution not supporting any provisions put in proposed amendments or resolutions to propose funding outside regular government funding for school districts. She said the delegates’ opinion was that such measures had the effect of “holding out a carrot. They contribute little or nothing that actually comes to school coffers.”
Taylor explained that the CASB conference delegates voiced non-support of citizen measures regarding potential funding of schools from “sin taxes” on marijuana and alcohol sales and gambling.
Amendment 68, for example, is a statewide ballot amendment that aims to legalize casino gambling at Arapahoe Park Race Track, a Denver metro track. If the voters approve it, the casino would be taxed to help schools by about a one percent increase to public school funding. Colorado’s 178 school districts have not endorsed it, nor has the Gilpin School Board.
Taylor also said that in 2016 or 2017, because the Colorado economy is doing so well, monies may have to be refunded under TABOR (the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which is a constitutional measure that limits the annual growth in state and local revenues to the sum of the inflation rate and the percentage change in the state’s population.)
“No one knows what will be done, but in Colorado, legislators don’t know how to create state revenue, because they have never been allowed to do so. This is quite different than elsewhere,” Taylor advised. She expects to hear a lot about this situation at the CASB regional meetings in December. All of the Gilpin School Board members plan to attend that conference.
The Board approved policies for second reading, without discussion, including those on Federally Mandated Family and Medical Leave, Administering Medications to Students, Curriculum Development, Health and Family Life/Sex Education, Preparation for Postsecondary and Workforce Success, among others.
MacKenzie reported on a presentation called “Keeping Children Safe — Straight Talk about Teen “Sexting” and the Use of Social Media,” given on September 30 by Maribeth Flanagan of the Jefferson Center for Mental Health. A small group of parents attended. Armstrong had also attended, and both she and MacKenzie agreed that the talk was well done, but not exactly what they or parents who attended were looking for; i.e., a specific procedure to address the potential problem. MacKenzie said Mike Harris of the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office will come on January 14, 2015 to do two presentations – one for the middle school and one for the high school – on Internet safety, including cyberbullying and sexting. He hoped Harris’ visit would prove to be more helpful.
A “Rachel’s Challenge” anti-bullying event is scheduled for October 23, with three assemblies and follow-up activities scheduled for elementary, middle, and high school. According to rachelschallenge.org, the program is based on the life and writing of Rachel Scott, the first victim of the Columbine tragedy in 1999. The site states, “We motivate and equip students to start and sustain a chain reaction of kindness and compassion that transforms schools and communities.” Gilpin last conducted a Rachel’s Challenge event in 2012.
MacKenzie noted, “This comes with a $3,500 price tag. I’ll seek funding outside the school or within it.” He commented that it is good to repeat the message of no bullying. “Once it’s addressed, it usually does subside,” he said.
He added, “October is Safe Schools Month. The school belongs to the Safe2Tell program, which is an anonymous method for reporting bullying without fear of retaliation. Young people may report threatening behavior at any time, by anyone. We had it used once last year.” He said a report goes simultaneously to the principal, superintendent, and School Resource Officer.
MacKenzie said that on September 23-24, elementary and secondary teachers participated in professional development workshops on “Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works.” The training was conducted by the Mt. Evans BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services). Teacher trainers will also present technology teaching strategies to K-12 teachers on October 10, January 5, and March 6.
MacKenzie updated the Board on technology. He said there were a couple of issues regarding telephones that need to be resolved and that Century Link will be working on them. Those issues concern emergency phones in the school elevators, which he said are hoped to be connected to the Sheriff’s Office, and some main switchboard issues.
“When people call and there is no one here to answer,” MacKenzie said, “the directory is not coming on and the caller gets disconnected.”
The District has been subscribing to video streaming services with Common Core content, and problems have been noted recently with two bad drivers on the server. The school has gone to a web-based service, and MacKenzie said all teachers have access to videos now, but some are getting dropped off.
“We’ll have to do this with IP [Internet Protocol] addresses,” he noted.
A software upgrade is needed for profiles that have become corrupted.
Wireless capabilities do not have good connectivity at the west end of the elementary and secondary buildings.
The Safety Committee met on October 1 to discuss emergency management plan updates and the formation of a crisis team and response team. Updates include adding the threat assessment protocol. Other meetings will be held November 17, February 18, and April 22.
MacKenzie said a lockout had been held at the school a few weeks ago. In such scenarios, a response team would walk the exterior of the building and check all doors.
Taylor questioned whether there was protocol in place to make the school an emergency shelter. MacKenzie responded that there was not; he said the Gilpin Community Center was also being considered as a shelter, but the school is bigger. He admitted that the school does not have a generator, but there is a plan to get portable generators.
He said a combination lockdown/ lockout drill is scheduled for October 21 at 9 a.m. In order to avoid “emotional upset,” teachers and parents will be informed through the school’s Alert Now system. The idea is to drill procedures so everyone knows how to respond.
The next Board meeting will be held October 20 at 7 p.m.
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