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Dolores school board discusses BOCES, provides update on Phase 1 of building project

In 2019, members of the community were invited to see the school’s building plans. The next community meeting will be Feb. 23. (Dolores School Board/Courtesy photo)
The school hopes to begin building during the summer 2024

The Dolores School District RE-4A board on Thursday discussed the Board of Cooperative Education Services Administrative Unit, Phase 1 of their master building plan and the new graduate profile committee.

High school forensics class

During celebration reports, Dolores High School teacher Dave Hopcia told the Board of Education about his forensics class, which teaches students how to work in crime investigation and forensics by testing and gathering evidence, investigating the scene of a crime and finding evidence on a body.

The students – usually juniors or seniors – need a Biology I credit to take the class. The yearlong class provides science credits while teaching students interested in pursuing a career in forensics all the basics. Hopcia noted his students learn how to be deep thinkers and problem solvers, and he ended the presentation with a video created by one of the students highlighting one of the cases they worked during the semester.

BOCES Administrative Unit

After the celebration reports, the board pivoted to discuss BOCES’ Administrative Unit and what its programs could offer the district. Brandy Durr, a national school psychologist, presented.

BOCES is an intermediate, regional service agency that was created by state legislation CRS 22-5-101 in 1965 to provide services to member districts, specifically in rural communities.

Twenty-one BOCES serve 169 school districts in Colorado. Sixteen function as the administrative unit for 137 school districts.

BOCES gets funding that allows it to partner with schools through local contributions, state funding, federal funding and grants.

To qualify for an AU, the school must provide special-education services, be approved by the Colorado Department of Education and fulfill ECEA obligations.

Along with other benefits Durr highlighted in her presentation, BOCES would provide data reporting, personnel training, legal advisement, crisis prevention training and a gifted program.

BEST grant and master plan update

Superintendent Reece Blincoe informed the board that the BEST grant application to help fund Phase 1 of the building master plan was turned in Feb. 3.

After the grant’s submission, Blincoe talked with the contractors about the building plan. He noted the original price of $29 million for Phase 1 of the master plan had lowered to $27 million.

Blincoe said the goal would be to start Phase 1 in summer 2024, pending approval from the BEST grant. If the grant is not given to the school this year, he said they would reapply the following year.

He also reminded the board and the individuals in attendance that would host a community meeting/open house on Feb. 23 to discuss master plan and what can be expected for the community and school.

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m., and food will be provided. All in the community, not just parents and students, are invited to attend.

Graduate profile committee selected

During the January board meeting, Blincoe expressed his desire to find a committee to help head the graduate profiles. He announced at the February meeting that the committee had been selected.

“A graduate profile is, What skills do you want your young people to have when they walk across the stage? You know, what do you want them to possess? I'll give you an idea. Like an effective communicator,“ Blincoe said. ”You know, healthy individual, somebody that values personal wellness, a responsible decision maker, you know, those types of skills we’re developing the list for. It’s not as much about the academics. It's about what skills do you want these kids to have when they graduate.“

The individuals on the committee are: Blincoe, school board President Maegan Crowley, elementary representative Emily Christenson, middle school representative Amanda Higgins, high school representative Jessica Kuntz, DAC member Cara Gilder, parent Virginia Johnson, middle school student Gus Vaughn, high school student Ethan Robson, high school Principal Justin Schmitt and high school counselor Caitlin West.

The board unanimously approved the graduation committee and committee members.

The board also approved Devon McHenry and Ethan Haney as Dolores’ new permanent substitute teachers, per discussions over the past few meetings.

Extension of superintendent’s contract

The board briefly discussed extending Superintendent Blincoe’s contract to two years to increase stability when a board position opens later this year. Blincoe has a year remaining on his current contract.

Blincoe emphasized that he would not get a raise or other extra benefit. The extra year would be the extent of the change.

The board said it would be an action item at its next meeting.

The next Dolores school board meeting is March 9 at 6 p.m.