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School safety and performance highlight Cortez school board meeting

The Montezuma-Cortez school board discussed a variety of topics at their March board meeting. (Screen Capture via Zoom)
A grant would provide the funds to install keyless entry card system into all six district schools

At their lengthy Tuesday night board meeting, the Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 school district discussed new school safety features, HVAC updates, student data and more.


In presentations, the Board of Education heard about the upcoming All-District Band Night Concert and Auction on Thursday, April 18 at 6 p.m. in the Montezuma-Cortez High School.

Admission to the concert and auction is free, and doors open at 5:15 p.m. A silent and live auction will benefit the band.

The middle school band is been one of 78 schools in the country to receive the National Association of Music Merchants Select Music Award, winning the award three of the past four years.

The high school band was recognized placed second at regionals and seventh at the Colorado Class 2A and competition while performing their “Dare to Fly” show.

The 55th Annual All-District Band Night will take place at 6 p.m., with doors opening at 5:15 p.m. There will be a silent auction, concert and a live auction for larger items.


Donations and questions and may be directed to mchs.band.marchingpanthers@gmail.com.

Colorado Department of Education and Relay presentation

The board received a presentation from the Colorado Department of Education’s Sam Schneider and Relay Graduate School of Education’s Jenn Baugher via Zoom, about the state’s accountability clock and the district schools’ status on the clock.

While the schools are at various performance levels, Schneider told the board that the schools are no longer on performance watch. Schneider added that if the district scores above the orange level – priority improvement – next year, they will be off the clock as a district.

During the presentation, the board and other attendees learned that the Relay program, which has been partnered with Mesa Elementary this school year, is built on the emphasis of “instructional leadership” and the knowledge of “what happens in the classroom matters.”

Baugher said Relay’s partnership with Mesa has created major academic and learning improvements and provided a foundation for learning strength.

“Relay has been an invaluable partner in helping Mesa achieve our goals through dedicated coaching and planning. The impact of Relay on our team at Mesa has transformed instruction and empowered us all. Mesa’s best days are ahead of us because of the team’s investment in Relay,” Baugher said.

Some of the key components of instructional leadership, according to a later report by Executive Director of Student Academic Services Jim Parr, are an equity-centered school culture, data-driven instruction, instructional planning, observation and feedback, strategic planning and aligned professional development.

Parr pointed out that the relay program works with CDE’s Jayson Thomas’s PLC process, helping “refine and update” the process to collect and review student data weekly while “adjusting instruction to find and meet real-time student needs.”

Superintendent report

Superintendent Tom Burris gave a brief update on the HVAC systems at Mesa Elementary, Kemper Elementary and Lewis-Arriola Elementary schools, saying there is a scheduled walk-through to view those systems.

Burris added that lawyers are involved in the process, and he would provide a more detailed update at the next board meeting.

He also updated the board on the district’s status with San Juan BOCES, saying that their appeal to the CDE was denied, though the state will investigate some of the files turned in by the district. Burris also shared that there would be remediation between the district and BOCES to strengthen their partnership.

Ramco Developments in Cortez is performing the work on the Middle School play structure, and Burris said they hope the structure will be ready to go by May.

As he went through his report, Burris shared with the board that they are short at least nine certified ESS teachers in the district, but they have been receiving applications from “J1 eligible Filipino candidates.”

Additionally, the bus that was involved in a crash in Towaoc a few weeks ago has been totaled, because the frame was bent beyond repair.

The district will receive a $60,000 settlement for the bus, but a new bus will cost $120,000 to $130,000.

School Security disbursement grant program

School Security Disbursement Grant Program (SB 23-241) funding would allow the district to purchase a keyless entry card system for the six school buildings in the district.

The keyless system requires that each school building’s exterior doors be shut, or an alarm will alert district and building personnel. The alarm won’t turn off until the door is properly closed and locked.

Employee entry cards can also be deactivated once employees are no longer working in the district, ensuring that “no extra keys floating around for unauthorized entry into one of our school facilities,” the report said.

The keypad alarm system costs $576,591.30, and the project will include the installation of six access control systems in all six district schools, which is a total of 47 exterior doors that need to be converted from the regular key system to the keyless system.

According to the information provided by the district, each door will receive an access-control card reader, a door position switch and a request-to-exit motion.

Approximately five doorways will require a new door, new hinge or new hardware altogether.

The grant also will provide the district with one access-control server, two access-control stations with a 24-inch monitor, two access-control badge printers and 400 access-control cards.

To continue to qualify for the grant funding, the district is required to continue amplifying its school safety by utilizing weapons detectors (already completed), install a security camera system at the high school and install magnetic door holders for hallway doors and master panic buttons for all six schools in the district.

In citizen comments, a charter schoolteacher who identified herself as Abby expressed her concerns over some of the new safety measures, particularly the metal detectors that students walk through each morning before class.

In her statement, she asked about additional mental health services to help students adjust to the changes, saying that treating students as security threats or making them feel like they were being “examined” each morning could be damaging.

“What can we do to not need as many measures?” she asked.

Discussion and action Items

One of the action items was a request of $228,254 to install a fire panel at MCMS, a necessary updated for the new HVAC system to be properly operated.

The board also discussed the supplemental budget and consent calendar.

The next Montezuma-Cortez board meeting is April 16 at 6 p.m.