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Montezuma-Cortez school board meets with state representative

Board receives training on how to work together
The Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 school board on Feb. 27 met with Randy Black, director of member relations from the Colorado Association of School Boards.

The Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 School Board met Tuesday with Randy Black, Colorado Association of School Boards director of member relations, to do some strategic planning work.

One of the main focuses of the discussion was working together as a newer board. Two of the seven board members, Tammy Hooten and Josiah Forkner, were sworn in the past five months.

According to Superintendent Lori Haukeness, the board wanted to meet with Black because of his extensive experience in training highly effective boards.

“The Board is a relatively new board and wanted training in order to effectively move the district forward,” Haukeness wrote in an email to The Journal. “The board wants to create goals which align with the instructional learning in the schools, but also incorporate community feedback and promote transparency.”

The board spent some time with discussing their individual strengths and explaining to Black how they operate as a board.

“Each one of us is an individual, and each one of us has a different strength,” board President Sherri Wright said. “We have got to learn to focus on our individual strengths to pull together to make a team.”

Black asked the board how it handled tough votes and motions made after lengthy discussions.

Wright said the board is always encouraged to follow their hearts with their vote, and whatever the outcome, they move on.

Black also suggested the board not only evaluate their only employee, Haukeness, but evaluate themselves periodically. The board agreed this exercise could be beneficial.

During his presentation, Black reminded the board that although they are volunteers, they are the governing body of the school district and that boards are most challenged in small communities. “That intimacy brings some complexities. It is not meant to be easy,” Black said.

Black also suggested the board have a quarterly “huddle” to check in with one another during work sessions in Haukeness’ office. He had spent some time in her office earlier that day and noticed a painting that he incorporated into the work session.

“On that bookshelf is a painting of trees, branching out,” Black said. “You have a root system, an expression system of your policies that roots itself, that branches out. ... A tree’s system is reaching for the sun or water but you impact this whole culture through your policies.”

He suggested they use the painting to prompt a conversation about how they are working together and with the community as part of their work sessions.

According to an email to The Journal from Haukeness, the board will be defining specific strategic goals from the work at the next board meeting.