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Cortez school board swears in new board member; discusses student data

State board will visit Mesa Elementary about a turnaround plan
The Montezuma-Cortez Board of Education swears in Lyndreth Wall as a board director for District D, south of Cortez, on Thursday, Jan. 19. (Screenshot from Zoom)

The Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 Board of Education on Thursday swore in Lyndreth Wall as its director of District D and discussed special-education training, student safety and midyear data to ensure intervention efforts are meeting their desired outcomes.

“Congratulations and welcome member Wall,” said Superintendent Tom Burris. “It has been a pleasure working with you since I returned to Cortez, and I’m looking forward to great collaboration and conversation.”

The meeting, originally scheduled for Jan. 17, had been postponed because of snow.

District special-education training

In his superintendent report, Burris noted that the Feb. 21 meeting would be different from than past meetings. The meeting will be moderated and the in-person and remote audience will be talked through the meeting to show why the board does what it does.

“This will provide excellent boardmanship training and will also serve to inform the public,” Burris said.

He also spoke of the districtwide special-education training required for all principals and assistant principals to attend. After speaking with Nicci Crowley from the LOR Foundation, Burris said they would be provided with a contribution of $6,500 to be used toward the training.

The LOR Foundation works with “rural communities in the Mountain West to enhance livability and prosperity while preserving the characteristics that make each community unique.” Burris also told board members they were invited to attend the training, and he had extended the invitation to neighboring districts as well.

Midyear data analysis of intervention efforts

Jim Parr, executive director of Student Academic Services, presented the overall midyear STAR data for reading and math after intervention efforts were put in place for struggling students.

The data Parr showed the Board was based on the beginning of the year compared with the middle of the year and included overall data separated into three groups – kindergarten through Grade 5, Grades 6-8 and Grades 9-12.

Parr said the data showed positive gains for students in math and reading and that it was imperative that the efforts continue.

Overall, data from the beginning of the year showed 32% of students in the district needed urgent intervention in reading, 21% needed intervention and only 24% met or exceeded benchmark levels.

Now, the midyear data shows 28% need urgent intervention, 17% need intervention and 30% met or exceeded benchmark levels.

Similar results were seen in math levels. At the beginning of the year, 24% of students needed urgent intervention, 20% needed intervention and 32% met or exceeded the benchmark. Now, 18% are in urgent need of intervention, 18% need intervention and 42% met or exceeded the benchmark.

Parr said he works with staff to review and analyze the performance data on Fridays. Staff are planning for the second half the school year and hoping to boost percentages even more as they prepare for state testing in March and April.

Mesa Elementary to receive a visit from state board

Because of Mesa Elementary’s low rating over a lengthy period on the Colorado Department of Education’s performance framework, the school will receive a visit and review to determine how the state can help the school improve its rating.

The elementary has received the state accreditation rating of “turnaround” and is required to adopt and implement a Turnaround Plan and show improvement.

The panel will visit Mesa around mid-March and will speak with school staff, building administrators, parents, students and board members to create a report with recommendations where the school can improve and areas they specifically need support.

Student safety plans

The assistant superintendent’s report highlighted the new emergency operations plan that is in the works for the high school. He noted students told them through a survey they felt the most unsafe in the school parking lot, so efforts are being made to make students feel more comfortable in that area.

The final revision will be presented at the Feb. 7 special meeting for the board to see. The plan is being put together by the district safety team which included the school’s emergency managing director, chief of police, sheriff, Cortez fire chief, Cortez EMS safety manager and the Colorado State Patrol captain.

Other items

The Board approved to accept donations totaling $3,000 from UMUT Farm and Ranch Enterprises and Arrow Brand LLC in exchange for two banners being displayed at high school activities and events.

The next school board meeting will take place Feb. 21 at 6 p.m.