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Mancos school board adopts new project-based learning curriculum for K-5th

The Mancos School Board discussed multiple items on Monday, including new school curriculum and the school’s drone program. (Screen Capture/Zoom)
Board of Education commits to the new curriculum for the next four years

The Mancos RE-6 Board of Education on June 19 discussed multiple items including Cortez’s future in BOCES, the success of the drone program and new curriculum.

When the board briefly discussed whether Cortez would continue to be part of San Juan BOCES, Superintendent Todd Cordrey said he felt confident in Mancos’ part in the organization, despite the uncertainty in Cortez.

“I feel like we have a strong relationship with San Juan BOCES. I feel confident in their leadership,” Cordrey said.

BOCES exists to be an advocate for and support special-needs students in the area’s schools. They also help schools receive staff who are qualified to work with children in the schools’ special education programs.

Cordrey touched on the success of the high school’s drone program, a partnership with Pueblo Community College. He traveled to Colorado State University with a few of the drone students as they attended drone camp.

In Mancos High School’s drone program, students learn to fly drones along and study the science behind how drones work and fly. Students who successfully complete the program, receive an FAA commercial license and open the door to a host of jobs in a variety of fields.

In discussions regarding their preliminary budget and grants received, the board learned they had received a grant that freed up money in the budget for much-needed technology in the school such as new Chromebook laptops for students.

They also discussed a new curriculum for the school and how long they should commit to the curriculum to see how students respond and improve.

The curriculum, which has a foundation in project-based learning, is called Benchmark. Mancos purchased the “Benchmark Advance” curriculum for kindergarten through fifth grade, and decided to commit to it for four years.

They decided three years was too short to know for sure whether or not it was working and five years too long if it was not effective.

According to the website, the curriculum includes “evidence-based core, supplemental and intervention literacy resources.”

The curriculum includes in-depth project-based learning for each subject and intervention resources and guides to aid students who may be struggling in a certain subject, ensuring they don’t fall behind in their studies.

“It’s rich with resources and guides, and our staff will receive a lot of training on just this curriculum,” Board Treasurer Emily Hutcheson-Brown said. “All curriculums (prekindergarten through 12th grade) will go hand in hand over time leading to a richer PBL learning environment and culture.”

Hutcheson-Brown also noted that the school is committed to improving its reading scores, and the reading intervention offered in its new curriculum is part of this effort. She said speaking to as many staff members as possible helped make the decision on which curriculum to go with, and they hope the new curriculum brings a boost in student participation.

“We were trying to be very mindful of making sure our chosen curriculum had PBL threads, so we are preparing our kids to move into a more robust secondary PBL learning experience,” she said. “This decision was tough, and we all did hours of research.”

On Aug. 7-8, teachers of classes in kindergarten through fifth grade will receive training on the new curriculum.

The board also discussed board elections coming up in November, when three board seats will be up for reelection.

They plan to have “focused communication” to get new board members in the seats and will put information on their website for those who are interested in being part of the board.

“I want to make sure we’re setting the table for the new stage. I’m proud of what we’ve done,” board President Pamela Coppinger said.

In action items, the board approved utilizing the Benchmark Advance curriculum for four years.

The next Mancos school board meeting is Aug. 7 at 6 p.m.