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Mancos school board discusses affordable teacher housing and board conference

The Mancos board discussed teacher pay and affordable housing at their December meeting. (Screen Capture via Zoom)
District is evaluating a 5-acre plot of land for housing

The Mancos School District RE-6 Board of Education on Monday discussed teacher pay, affordable housing and the Colorado Association of School Boards conference at their December meeting.

At the beginning of the meeting, the board briefly discussed the superintendent evaluation rubric before expressing the need to increase teacher pay.

Member Victor Figueroa pointed out that neighboring school districts are paying incoming teachers $50,000 to $54,000 per year, while the Mancos district is paying new teachers around $34,000.

He noted that this is something the board brought up to Sen. Cleave Simpson and Rep. Barbara McLachlan when they visited the district earlier in the day, saying they hope legislation will recognize districts with “special needs” that make it difficult to have competitive teacher pay.

The board also said they brought up mental health and paying off the debt the state has to education.

“We want them to fully fund Colorado schools,” Figueroa said.

Mancos students who attended the CASB conference this month created a video that was presented, and the board talked about the first year of having Mancos students at the CASB conference and how refreshing it was to see Mancos students conversing and learning at the conference with other students in the state.

Vice President Tim Hunter said he had the opportunity to spend time with students at the conference and speak to them about education in Colorado.

There were breakout sessions with Durango and their portrait of a graduate competencies, which Superintendent Todd Cordrey said was well done.

“It’s nice to have quality partnerships with quality neighbors,” Cordrey said.

President Emily Hutcheson-Brown said she was thankful for the chance to learn from Mancos students at the conference.

“I thought we would be pulling answers out of them, but they were happy to share and answer our questions,” Hutcheson-Brown said. “That student voice is important … we were able to bring the student voices to the table in a meaningful way.”

Hutcheson-Brown said she hopes that eventually the board can include a student representative at board meetings.

New member and BOCES representative Rachel McWhirter gave the board an update on the last BOCES meeting, saying they barely made quorum to have a meeting.

She shared that Montezuma-Cortez’s denied request to leave BOCES was a hot topic of conversation at the meeting, adding that Cortez has 60 days to appeal the Colorado Department of Education’s decision.

Later on in the meeting, Cordrey gave the board an update on building affordable housing for staff, saying it was “moving at a steady pace,” and that there is a 5-acre plot of land nearby that the school was evaluating for that purpose in January.

While affordable housing will provide relief to teachers who are struggling to make ends meet, Cordrey said that ultimately the best solution would be to match neighboring district’s teacher compensation.

The next Mancos school board meeting will take place Jan. 22 at 6 p.m.