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Dolores school board hears from SWEC on student pathways at meeting

The Dolores school board discussed student pathways and more at December meeting.
Blincoe thank community for passing the bond in the district’s December newsletter

At their Thursday meeting, the Dolores RE-4A school board heard from Jess Morrison of Southwest Education Collaborative on student pathways, as well as hearing from students about wanting to change the date of the high school’s graduation in May.

Near the beginning of the meeting, the board was addressed by some of the school’s high school seniors, who asked that the Board reconsider their decision to schedule the 2024 high school graduation on Thursday, May 23.

The students shared that they had family members from out of town who wanted to attend but would find it difficult to take time off of work to make it to the ceremony on Thursday. They also said they would prefer not to potentially have the same graduation date as Montezuma-Cortez High School and Dove Creek High School.

Following the address from students, the Board received an update from Morrison. According to their website, SWEC is a non-profit with the goal of “expanding educational opportunities for students in rural Colorado.”

They also partner with Pueblo Community College and Fort Lewis College.

“The Southwest Colorado Education Collaborative was formed by teachers and school administrators who wanted to offer students in rural areas the same opportunities that are provided to those in metro areas. In coordination with Pueblo Community College and Fort Lewis College, the collaborative is exposing students in the Bayfield, Durango, Ignacio, Pagosa Springs and Silverton school districts to different career pathways,” the website said.

Morrison spoke to the Board about providing more specific pathways for Dolores’s high school students to help them prepare to start their career or head to a college or university with work-related certifications and a knowledge of what they want to pursue for a future career.

She said this system helps students pick a path by showing them what they know they want to do and know what they don’t want to do.

By partnering with local businesses and organizations, students can receive hands-on learning in fields they are curious about or would like to pursue in the future.

She also pointed out that students who may have to work their way through college benefit from having career certifications which leads to higher pay in those fields.

Other offers Morrison mentioned other than helping create partnerships with local businesses was providing internships, mobile learning labs and providing training and information on latest technology in the students’ chosen pathways.

The pathway categories included environmental pathway and building trades pathway.

The program also, according to Morrison, also provides teacher growth and opportunities by allowing them to train with SWEC partners. Teachers who do take part in these short initiatives can make an extra $2,000.

Those who wish to learn more about SWEC can visit their website: https://www.swcoedcollaborative.org/.

Following SWEC’s presentation and hearing from LaVita Superintendent Bree Jones, the board discussed moving their meeting date to a different day of the week to accommodate members of the board who may have students competing in athletics on Thursday’s, and mentioned potentially moving the meeting to either Tuesday or Wednesday, but a change wasn’t decided at the meeting.

The Board also approved the Dolores Public Library’s board appointment and tabling the superintendent survey until January.

John McHenry was named head girl basketball coach, along with other new hires.

In the district’s December newsletter, Superintendent Reece Blincoe thanked the community for passing the bond in November, saying:

“New schools have a way of refreshing the town. It is a sign to all that pass through that we care about our students and the town's future so much that we invest in them and their education. New buildings beget new buildings; it’s typical to see more new businesses and housing as new schools go in. New housing attracts new families, and it’s typical to see growth in the town and student populations.”

He also provided a timetable for acquiring the BEST grant, saying that the new application will be submitted in January and he will interview with the selection committee on May 13. The district will know whether or not they have been chosen to be BEST grant recipients on May 15.

If chosen, the bond will come into effect, allowing the district to begin building their new school.

The next school board meeting will take place on Thursday, Jan. 11 at 6 p.m.