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Dolores school board discusses next steps of school building plan and ‘disheartening’ attendance

Board President Maegan Crowley and others look over plans for the new high school, which will be built if the district receives the BEST grant. (Dolores School District/Archive photo)
$11.2 million bond was passed during Nov. 7 election

Members of the Dolores RE-4A Board of Education, meeting Thursday for the last time before newly elected candidates are sworn in, celebrated the achievements of the high school cross-country team and discussed “disheartening” school attendance and the next steps for building a new school.

In celebration reports, the board heard from cross-country coach Angie Lowe, who fielded a large team of 12 runners this season, and sent six runners to the state meet. The girls team, paced by junior Everlee Heaton, placed 14th. Classmates Elia Lowe, Keira LaRose and Maya Lowe also finished in the top 100, and Coralea Wright was 119th.

Aaron Nielsen, the lone qualifier for the boys team, placed 91st out of 136 runners.

“We’ve had a great season and I think the most exciting thing is they’re all back next year,” Lowe said.

The board also heard from Brooklyn Lee, president of Dolores’s FFA chapter, who gave a speech that she will give at a district competition. Lee’s speech focuses on the importance of farmers and where food comes from.

“Some people are so far away, that they don't realize how their food gets on their tables. It doesn't just show up on our tables. It starts off with the farmer preparing their land or raising and breeding there and then it takes a lot of hard work to get that commodity ready to leave the farm,” she said.

After celebration reports, the board spoke of the incoming board members, thanking Treasurer Lenetta Shull and interim member Michael Rime for serving on the board.

Dustin Goodall and Julia Wilson Anderson will join the board at the next meeting, officially beginning their time as Dolores school board members. In December, the board will decide which member will take on the two-year board term, while the remaining members will serve four years.

Attendance is ‘disheartening’

In board reports, Lenetta Shull talked about her time with the representative on the Colorado Board of Education, adding she hoped they would meet with other board and school leaders.

Shull said the state representatives were concerned about attendance in Dolores schools, and how the school was reacting to the absenteeism.

“We need to be careful not to address symptoms but look for the cause,” Shull said. “Our high school is very disheartening to have that kind of absenteeism.”

The school plans to create a plan to address absenteeism at the root cause and will develop policies that are specific to a rural school.

Superintendent looks toward new school

With voter approval Nov. 7 of Ballot Issue 4A, the $11.2 million bond to build a new school, Superintendent Reece Blincoe said he would begin working on the BEST grant application to submit in early 2024.

The Colorado Department of Education’s BEST grant would provide $18 million toward the plan to build a new high school and renovate other areas of the district campus.

“The ball is already rolling, so that’s a wonderful thing,” Blincoe said.

In action items, the board hired a new payroll specialist Anndrea Crawford, assistant baseball coach and middle school basketball assistant coach David Krumwiede and middle school head wrestling coach John Reina.

The next Dolores school board meeting is Thursday, Dec. 7, at 6 p.m.