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Montezuma-Cortez school board meets for retreat

Board discussed communication, strategic planning, safety, budget

The Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 School Board met for a daylong retreat on Monday to discuss strategic planning moving forward with the district.

Before breaking into study groups, board members discussed their roles on the board and in the community and received encouragement to speak their minds.

“Never be concerned if you are voting different from the board,” said newly appointed president Sherri Wright. “That is why you are there, to vote from your own conscience.”

Suzy Meyer, a writing consultant for the district, reminded the board of its and the news media’s public roles.

“The media stands in for the public,” Meyer told the board. “Any info to which the media has a right the public does also.”

For in-depth discussions, the board broke up into two groups to discuss strategic planning for operational and academic goals. Each group walked around the room to stations that contained posters representing different problems or topics. Board members posted their thoughts and ideas to each poster, using post-it notes, and followed up with discussions.

“This is where you are going to see a lot of your individual concerns addressed as we move through this planning process,” Lori Haukeness said. “If we do not have a strategy behind it, we are not going to get to where we need to go.”

Haukeness said she would group ideas together to be discussed at the next board meeting.

Carol Mehesy, director of School Improvements and Grants, also presented the board with Manaugh Elementary’s pathways plan.

“They have entered Year 6 on the clock this year, and that does mean that they are required to submit a pathways plan,” Mehesy said.

State statute allows four options for schools on the clock – school closure, conversion to a charter school, innovation status or a partnership with a management company.

The district has chosen to present a plan to the state to continue the partnership with the University of Virginia to help Manaugh’s accreditation status.

“That is also the pathway that you all approved for the district,” Mehesy said. “Due in large part to the success of that partnership in terms of improvements in accreditation, the state panel thought that would also make sense to choose that as a pathway and continue the partnership with UVA.”

Next, the board heard about hiring practices and continued staffing shortage problems from Dan Porter, director of human resources.

In addition, finance director Carla Hoehn spoke about the district’s budget.

“There is a case for celebration,” Haukeness said. “We have a balanced budget.”

Hoehn also discussed state property taxes that are under litigation.

“From my understanding from speaking with the assessor’s office, every year in January we will get another year of Kinder Morgan, what they call ‘delinquent tax,’” Hoehn said. “Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Montezuma County, we will start to see money flow through every year until that is caught up.”

Hoehn reported that the district received $639,059.00 for the 2011 property tax year.

“I have been assured that this is our money that we can absorb into our general fund budget, and we can chose to spend it however it is deemed necessary,” Hoehn said.

The board agreed to discuss how the money will be used at their next regular meeting.

Jan 10, 2018
Re-1 school board discusses safety at retreat