At the Dolores RE-4A school board meeting on March 9, the board had a heated discussion about whether to allocate reserve funds to a track and announced a board vacancy, among other discussion items and talking points.
The Board of Education announced that longtime member Lori Raney was turning in her resignation, effective March 10. Raney told the board she was moving to North Carolina to help take care of her mother.
She said she enjoyed her time on the board and found that it was a good way to give back to the community and make positive change.
The board thanked her for her service, and Superintendent Reece Blincoe said he would miss having Raney as his “mountain biking buddy.”
According to Colorado Law, the board has 60 days to appoint a new member to the board. That person will serve until the November board election.
Potential candidates may email a letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. Interviews will take place near the beginning of April.
A celebration report was given from Dolores’ Future Farmer’s of America Club. FFA members told how the club has affected the lives and helped them improve their confidence and public speaking.
“I have improved a lot since freshman year, and I am a better speaker now,” one member said. “I want to advocate for agriculture.”
They then informed the board that they had qualified to go to FFA Nationals in Indianapolis in October and planned to raise funds for the trip.
They will hold a fundraiser at Dolores High School on April 15 which will include dinner and a dessert auction, sell concessions at school sports events and potentially host a QuizBowl and sell produce at the farmers market this summer.
After the FFA presentation, students presented their science fair project, which measured the levels of radon in citizens’ homes. They noted that more people should conduct systematic radon testing because high radon levels can cause irreversible lung damage that can lead to lung cancer.
Following up on the February meeting discussion about ways to improve the school’s chances to be awarded a BEST grant, Blincoe returned to a conversation initiated by board member Casey McClellan in the last meeting about putting some of the school’s reserves toward a track.
Blincoe emphasized that a BEST grant can be more successful if schools take the initiative with their building plans, instead of relying on the grant to do it for them.
He proposed putting $1 million of the district’s reserves toward a six-lane track and field, noting that it would benefit the students to have their own track.
He said he would work on revising the grant application March 27-29 and wanted to know whether he could add that they would allocate funds to a track. He said a contractor estimated the track would cost about $2 million, and financing options were available.
Board President Meagan Crowley and member Clay Tallmadge were the first to voice concerns about approving that much money for a project that lacked precise estimates and a budget.
The discussion became heated. Blincoe and Lenetta Shull saying a track would be in the school’s best interest as they work toward obtaining the BEST grant, while Tallmadge and Crowley didn’t feel comfortable earmarking that amount of money specifically toward a track.
Crowley suggested they table the discussion, while Shull made a move to put the money toward the track for BEST. Tallmadge emphasized the board needed to ensure the school and its buildings were where they needed to be before discussions of a track happened, and Crowley said she wouldn’t approve a measure without knowing real numbers.
Crowley added that she did think the track was a good idea, but didn’t think it was in the best interest of the school to skip ahead in the building process.
After the motion on the table failed, Shull amended the motion to say that they would earmark $1 million to Phase 1b instead of specifically earmarking toward the track. That move was approved.
The Board unanimously approved adopting the 2023/2024 school calendar and accepted the amendment to extend Blincoe’s contract by one year. The board noted that the extension would add stability to the school and help with the building project. Blincoe emphasized he was not getting a raise in the contract extension.
To end the meeting, they said they would be discuss teacher raises at the April board meeting.
The next board meeting is Thursday, April 13, at 6 p.m.