The Mancos school board held its last meeting of 2019 on Monday, wrapping up the year with talks on the new district facilities, project-based learning initiatives, and more.
It also marked the first meeting post-election, since the November session was canceled, meaning it was the first meeting for newly elected board member Katie Cahill-Volpe. Before the regular meeting, the board also held special elections to determine new positions.
This November, the Mancos School District Re-6 saw a competitive school board race, with eight candidates vying for three seats. Voters ultimately chose incumbents Pam Coppinger and Tim Hunter, along with newcomer Katie Cahill-Volpe.
At a special board meeting Monday night, members decided on new positions. Coppinger was selected as president, Hunter as vice president, Boe Hawkins will be the new secretary and Cahill-Volpe the treasurer.
After four years as president, Blake Mitchell is stepping down from having an official position.
“Two-and-a-half of those years were knee-deep in the BEST and the grant application and all of those things,” Superintendent Brian Hanson said. “And you did it well, so we appreciate the four years that you put in as president.”
The board and staff discussed whether or not to allow the general public to use the new track and athletic fields, or to keep them just for students’ use. They didn’t come to any conclusions, although the board asked for more research from staff regarding other school districts’ policies.
The problem with public access is that it could increase wear and tear on the track and lead to additional maintenance needs. On the other hand, though, voters approved a $5 million bond to help pay for schoolwide renovations, and board members wanted to make sure residents didn’t feel they had been deceived in any way.
“We have a facility use agreement, people come and check out if they want to use a facility,” Hanson said. “Track is different.”
Owner’s representative Monty Guiles felt they should close it off to the public, saying that opening the gates would lead to “the pet issue” and shorten the lifespan of the track before maintenance would have to take place.
“We have a CHSAA-approved track, that we can have state-qualifying meets on, that should last us somewhere in that 12 to 15-year range before we have to do any maintenance on it,” Guiles said.
Athletic director Heath Showalter agreed with Guiles, saying that it would be difficult to manage, although he suggested Mancos could possibly install turnstiles to regulate access.
Board members were wary of having an open track, although they acknowledged that since the community had contributed to the project’s funding, perhaps they were due some usage.
“There is public money involved with this, not just BEST money,” Hunter said. “Our community put up $5 million to see this happen, and there are people who want to be able to use it.”
They directed Showalter to look into what other districts are doing.
Continued efforts toward project-based learning are underway. Projects are being implemented across all grade levels, and classes have been teaming up with local organizations and businesses, including the town of Mancos, Mancos Trails Group, and the Four Corners Recycling Initiative.
Staff and teachers have been developing their “Portrait of a Graduate,” in which they detail what they hope a Mancos graduate will walk away with, in areas including innovation, communication skills, technological literacy, leadership, and more.
A PBL open house “exhibition night” is currently scheduled for Jan. 22.
The board approved the mill levy for property tax year 2019.
The rate marked a decrease of about five mills from previous years, due to the sunset of a seven-year mill levy approved by voters in 2012. The total approved mill levy comes out to 28.40 for Re-6.