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Mancos school board updates strategic plan for upcoming school year

The Mancos school board is gearing up for the school year with staff training and updates to the strategic plan. (Screen Capture via Zoom)
Board speaks of new hires and potential teacher housing

The Mancos RE-6 school board on Tuesday provided updates on new hires, summer trainings and the school resource officer committee.

After opening the meeting to an empty list of citizen comments, the board jumped right into their discussions, with a quick district accountability committee update from Superintendent Todd Cordrey.

Cordrey told the board that the DAC will host a joint session meeting Aug. 16 to continue growing relationships between the board and the committee and discuss the objectives, needs and membership for the 2024-2025 school year.

Board member Victor Figueroa spoke of a recent Colorado Supreme Court ruling that barred Colorado BOCES from building a school for kids with learning disabilities in a nonmember district. The judge ruled that BOCES had no jurisdiction in a district outside its assigned area.

In Cordrey’s report, Cordrey gave a brief update saying that each of the 10 district departments would provide current operating procedures to ensure that they were running smoothly. Board President Emily Hutcheson-Brown suggested having the departments format their SOPs into an easily editable document to simplify the review process annually.

Cordrey told the board they are doing well with hiring, and don’t have many open positions heading into the 2024-2025 school year. Currently, they have two openings, one for an elementary ESS teacher and another for a secondary ESS paraprofessional.

The board then discussed the elementary ESS teacher position, which they said has been open for over a year. While there are teachers in the district with the qualifications to fulfill that role, the board noted that the position is very challenging, leading them to discuss considering raising the salaries or hourly pay rates associated with all ESS positions to not only encourage qualified teachers to come forward, but to also encourage paraprofessionals to continue in the hard-to-fill ESS positions.

They even discussed possibly considering a stipend for substitutes in these higher need roles.

Cordrey gave an update on the school resource officer committee, a group of around 10 people from the district who are researching and carefully considering adding a full-time SRO to the Dolores school campuses.

Cordrey said good questions are being asked, and that the committee is “being incredibly thoughtful in all aspects.”

“Really good research is going into this,” he added. “I’m really impressed with that group.”

The SRO committee is expected to provide the board with their recommendation by the end of the summer.

The district is also continuing to look at teacher housing as an option in the district to help take some of the high home prices off teachers and staff.

The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority is providing Mancos with resources to provide expertise as the district is now reviewing the phase two study of the bus barn site evaluation. The district is expected to continue the evaluation project with the assistance of the CHFA as they work to decide whether the barn site could potentially serve as a housing project building location.

Cordrey is working on planning an administration professional development workshop July 30-31, which would take place with the Ignacio school district, since the two districts are similar in size, as well as with BOCES.

This workshop would help provide HR training to administrative leadership, as Cordrey noted that HR continues to become more and more complex, especially since the changes made to Title IX earlier this year.

The board also celebrated the district’s inaugural commercial driver’s license program. Two students have finished the paperwork and passed the training, and are expected to receive their Class A CDL license soon.

Two staff also completed the class in order to be certified to drive buses, should the district need emergency bus drivers. These teachers are expected to be finished training for their license in mid-July.

The program will start again in the fall, and will be available to all students in local districts, not just Mancos students.

“Because of this program being able to be offered on our campus, we will be holding the program in the fall again and allowing for regional participation from surrounding districts,” Hutcheson-Brown told The Journal.

The board spoke of their debrief of the district’s strategic plan on June 5, saying the board spent six hours reevaluating the strategic plan and making necessary changes for the second year in a row.

Cordrey emphasized that these changes help keep the strategic plan a “living, breathing document aligned to constituent needs and desires so we can get the best outcomes possible for our kids.”

The updated strategic plan will be finished with updates by the end of July, and will be provided to returning staff no later than Aug. 7. New staff will receive their copy of the plan at their staff orientation on Aug. 8.

A review of the number of individuals who signed in to visit the school to visit and volunteer provided a number of 500 sign-ins throughout the course of the school year, totaling 900 hours spend in the schools.

This doesn’t include the number of volunteers who have a badge to swipe in and don’t have to sign in, allowing the board to estimate that actual volunteer hours would more than likely be double the 900 recorded through sign in sheets.

Cordrey gave the board an update on new facility director Destri Lockhart, saying she is “kicking butt” in her role and that her “knowledge level is impressive and the diligence has been really terrific.”

Four varsity head coaches have also been recommended for hire by the activities and athletic department. The first round of high school head coach positions were submitted by newly appointed interim athletic and activities director Louis Horton.

The head coaches recommended for hire are Will Custer for head boys’ high school basketball coach, Todd Sehnert for head high school girls’ basketball coach, Brianna Wyatt for head high school volleyball coach and Travis White for head high school wrestling coach.

There are still several open positions for the fall, and the department is following an interview committee process and collecting applications now.

The board also confirmed hiring Elizabeth Eschallier as the new K-12 Gifted and Talented, English Lanuage Learners Director and Lockhart as facilities and maintenance director.

“This has been a long time coming, and I’m very excited for what this is going to mean to our kids,” Cordrey said of Eschallier’s position.

The board will not have a meeting in July, but will reconvene prior to the upcoming school year in August.