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Mancos school board receives student insight and discusses search for new principal

The Mancos school board discussed a variety of topics, including a principal’s resignation, at their Monday night meeting. (Screen Capture via Zoom)
Each year, members of the board are able to hear from group of students

The Mancos School District RE-6 Board of Education on Monday discussed feedback from students, the secondary school principal’s resignation and updates about their research into affordable housing.

Superintendent report

Superintendent Todd Cordrey reminded the board of the district’s project-based learning exhibition on April 26.

The exhibition will highlight students and their learning by showcasing and providing updates on projects and giving information on project-based learning processes.

Cordrey also informed the board of a spring meeting that he will have with BOCES leadership to discuss what is going well and what can be improved in the district.

On April 12, the district will have a “walkabout” in which teachers shadow other teachers to learn about their classroom processes.

Cordrey noted that this provides positive networking and socializing for teachers, as they are able to spend time together and learn from each other.

Student linkage panel

Board President Emily Hutcheson-Brown and Board Director Victor Figueroa reported on the student linkage exercise panel that they attended with Cordrey.

In the panel, students provided feedback to the board and offered ideas for improvements, new classes and areas of focus.

Both Hutcheson-Brown and Figueroa expressed gratitude to the students, saying the panel was a diverse group of 10 students with a variety of backgrounds.

Hutcheson-Brown said students had great conversations and were very articulate in expressing their opinions.

“I was so impressed and proud,” Hutcheson-Brown said.

Figueroa added that students spoke “eloquently,” sharing that students expressed a “fantastic” relationship with their teachers.

Some of the ideas students shared involved Mancos’s pathway courses, saying they would like to see classes that taught college skills with a focus on college preparation, FAFSA and scholarships.

Figueroa said students also expressed the desire to have a driver’s education class on Mancos’ campus.

Students also said that allowing eighth graders to shadow a high schooler would help them with the transition from middle school and learn their class options before they register for classes.

“I was astonished at what we learned from students,” Figueroa said.

Hutcheson-Brown said they hope to have a student representative on the board next year to add insight to the linkage panel.

Principal resignation

While talking about staff retention, Cordrey shared that the secondary school Principal Ed Whritner has resigned.

According to Cordrey, Whritner has been in the district for seven years, serving “in a variety of ways” including board member, project-based learning director and principal.

Cordrey called Whritner a “high-caliber person” and said he would “miss him personally.”

The board and Cordrey acknowledged lauded Whritner for his “incredible hires” and for raising “the quality of education.”

Cordrey said they planned to post the open position on April 17, with interviews beginning April 19.

The new principal would shadow Whritner through the spring semester and begin the 2024-2025 school year at the end of July.

Secondary school Principal Ed Whritner announced his resignation Monday. (Mancos School District)

In his letter to the district, Whritner said his decision was best for him and his family and that he would resume his career as a builder.

“I am incredibly fortunate to have been a part of the Blue Jay family for the past seven years,” Whritner said. “Throughout my time, I have had the opportunity to build so much, with so many talented people.”

Whritner said the most difficult part of his decision was the fear of disappointing those in the district, but that “no single person makes or breaks the success of our schools.”

“There is an extraordinarily talented and dedicated group of educators and staff in place to continue the positive growth for the Mancos School District,” Whritner said. “I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve as a leader of your students over the years; it has been an honor and a privilege.”

Affordable housing

The board provided a brief update on their research into affordable housing, saying Phase One had been completed with the environmental evaluation of their bus barn site, and Phase Two is winding up.

Thanks to a grant, the first two phases were completed with no charge to the district.

Hutcheson-Brown said the project was in the “due diligence” stage and nothing has been decided.

As the district explores options, a grant will provide a technical assistant for 100 hours, for advice on parts of the process.

Vice President Tim Hunter expressed excitement over the possibility of district housing, but acknowledged that the due diligence was needed.

Treasurer Rachel McWhirter shared reservations, saying that she wasn’t sure a school should be involved in property management.

The next Mancos board meeting is April 15 at 6 p.m.