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Southwest Open School board approves retention bonuses for staff

SWOS approved staff retention bonuses and discussed the upcoming 2024-2025 school year during their June meeting. (Courtesy Photo)
The bonuses will thank returning staff for their efforts and work at SWOS

At their June board meeting, the Southwest Open School board approved retention bonuses to staff, and discussed their new makerspace as they prepared for the 2024-2025 school year.

To start the meeting, the board discussed giving staff retention bonuses as an incentive to keep working at SWOS and expressed gratitude for the staff who help change students’ lives.

The board discussed three bonus amounts – $500, $750 and $1,000 – and approved the $1,000 amount. The board designated $1,240 for the staff, with the $240 to be pulled out in taxes.

SWOS has 19 staff members, so a total of $23,560 will be given out in bonuses. The board approved the amount to be paid to staff at the beginning of the 2024-2025 school year.

SWOS also decided the “monthly focus area” for each month of the year. They are:

  • July: Parent and employee handbooks.
  • August: Professional development report and strategic plan.
  • September: Unified Improvement Planning.
  • October: Count report and impact on budget.
  • November: Montezuma-Cortez School District Report/UIP.
  • December: Self-evaluation.
  • January: Midyear evaluation by the board.
  • February: Student support services and exceptional student services annual report.
  • March: Employee supervision/evaluation annual report and proposed budget.
  • April: Facility annual report.
  • May: Parent and community communication annual report.
  • June: Final evaluation and curriculum and assessments annual report.

Director Casey Simpson also spoke of the new makerspace purchased by SWOS for entrepreneurial students. The trailer cost $12,500 and will be used by students to sell their art and other products they create.

The board also discussed improving their project-based and general unit planning, as well as its academic counseling and ICAP intricate roots.

“SWOS can improvement its classroom organization, appearance and climate to better support trauma-informed instruction,” the board said.

As far as testing this year goes, SWOS is approaching between 25th and 50th percentiles. The board was informed that 18/19 seniors passed all three of the work keys assessments.

It was also discussed how students with high variables in attendance affect test scores, as students who do not participate or actively attend school will more than likely not do well in testing.

The board also went through their budget and financials, providing updates on changes, especially since the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund grant, which provided funding to many areas of the school, is expiring soon.

Simpson told the board that they are applying to other grants and that the loss of the grant shouldn’t be too negatively impactful.

There are about $5,020 in funds that SWOS didn’t use before the ESSER grant timed out, but Simpson said that money cannot be switched to another line item.

The board also approved their capital construction resolution, which approved $13,068.24 to be taken from the 2023-2024 capital construction fund for the school’s new Gila and Piedra classroom.