There were a lot of important topics covered during the Yuma School District-1 Board of Education meeting, held Monday night in the board room at the new district office.
(The Pioneer skipped the meeting to watch the Nuggets’ historic win, but paid for it by having to spend Tuesday listening to the recording of the two-hour session.)
We will start with the mascot and budget issues.
Board member Lindsey Galles was unable to attend, but Superintendent Dianna Chrisman shared Galles’ ideas on how to go about selecting a new mascot. (Board members Thomas Holtorf, Terri Cooper, John Deering and Duane Brown were in attendance.)
Galles had previously shared with Chrisman how Arickaree in Washington County (which is now the Bison) held weekly competitions between suggested nicknames until coming up with a finalist.
Chrisman said she would like to see a process that moves rather quickly and asked for guidance from the board.
Board members were in agreement to get a list of finalists, reopening to the public for suggestions. The finalists, whether it be something like eight or 16, would square off in a bracket format, with the public, including students, voting through an online process. Chrisman said it probably would take about four weeks to determine a winner.
Since the district wants students involved, the process would begin as students register in early August.
The tentative plan is to have a finalist no later than October 1, with the board making a final approval during the October meeting.
Yuma-1 purchased new uniforms for all teams this past year after having to eradicate the “Indians” mascot. Chrisman said those mascot-free uniforms will continued to be used until the usual rotation kicks back at in, at which point the new mascot will be incorporated.
Chrisman provided an update for the 2023-24 budget, which has to be approved in June. She said the latest version includes the compensation increases, extra-duty assignments (which will be presented at the June meeting), the individual school budgets and vehicle requests.
There remains $536,895 in unassigned funds which could go into capital improvements or the reserve fund.
All the COVID-related ESSER funds need to be spent by 2024. Chrisman said all the remaining work at YHS and MES should be completed this summer. She said the lighting and audio upgrades at the YHS Auditorium are 90 percent completed.
The superintendent stressed that all raises are out the General Fund, not the one-time ESSER Funds.
“We are sitting with a very healthy budget,” Chrisman said.
The board had two policies dealing with medically necessary treatment in school setting, and authorizing private health care specialists to provide medically necessary treatment in a school setting.
Yuma’s Sue Armstrong, whose family helped spur legislation that was passed last year requiring districts to have such policies, addressed the board during public comment.
She had questions about who decides if a student can receive in-school treatment, how is tracked, how many requests are approved or denied, and why? She asked if there had been any open discussion about the policies. She said she and her family would like to have a discussion with the district about it as some parts of the policies are confusing, and there might be some barriers in the policies from students receiving in-school treatment.
The policies came up for first reading later in the meeting. Chrisman a long presentation, noting they are a culmination of a year’s worth of work by Northeast BOCES and the district’s lawyers. She said the policies meet all the requirements of the legislation, and includes data tracking how many students are approved or denied. She also noted it takes into consideration many conditions besides autism. Parents/guardians are part of the review process for their student’s plan, and can provide input/feedback.
The policies passed unanimously on first reading. They will come back before the board at the June meeting.
Yuma High School Principal Brady Nighswonger and Chrisman presented new recommended graduation requirements based upon updated state standards.
First up was science. Nighswonger said the recommendation is all students take Earth Science, Biology and a physical science course (of which there are three options).
As for social studies, it was recommended all students take World History/Geography, U.S. History and American Government. Nighswonger said nearly all students already take those courses, so it would not be much of a change.
It also was recommended students participate in Advisement as a graduation requirement, during which they will take Zillow Program (which includes financial literacy) and the Character Strong Program to receive credits
There was an exhibit on the variety of standardized tests students can take to show they are ready to graduate. Nighswonger also presented a reworking of the grade point average system, with college courses being ranked on a 5-point scale (high school courses are on a 4-point scale), and that anyone with a 4.0 or higher grade point average when graduating will be recognized as a No. 1 student.
All the policies and exhibits were approved by the board.
Parents Rosabell Gonzales, Gabriel Franklin and Gabriel Fuentes expressed their concerns about security issues at the Yuma schools. Concerns about bullying in the lower grades also were expressed, along with a question if it is being addressed. The parents were told the district would get back to them with information about their concerns.
Parent Margo Ebersole, who also heads up the Rural Communities Resource Center, updated the board on the number of students who have participated in its free dental clinics, accouning for more than $100,000 in dental services. She also told the board about doing a summer meal program in June and July covering breakfast and lunch for youth. (Look for more on this in an upcoming edition as details are finalized.)
The board went over the updated student handbooks for each school with the principals. There were several questions about the new eligibility requirements at Yuma Middle School tied to tardiness, which reportedly is an issue at the school.
The board approved the classified compensation plans and the classified staff notice of assignments.
Recommended hirings were: Peggy Traphagan, YMS fifth and sixth grade English teacher, transition; Grace Blecha, MES kindergarten teacher; Tara Chadwick, MES music teacher; Laura Salinas and Eiliany Loya as preschool Paras; Jeanne Yenter, transportation director, transition, and; Cristi Powell, MES Interventions, transition.
Separations and resignations included: Jazmine Diaz, YHS floating classroom instructor; Diedre Huway, MES kindergarten teacher; Jeanne Yenter, transportation director, transition; Cristi Powell, MES Interventions, transition, and; Connor Morton, YMS para.
Several activity trip requests were included: YHS girls basketball to a camp in Greeley in June; YHS volleyball to a camp in Alamosa in July; the sixth-grade trip to the outdoor camp in Granby in September; the YHS FFA to the state convention in Pueblo in June; YHS football to a camp in Alamosa in July; YHS boys basketball to a camp in Lakewood in June; YHS boys wrestling to a camp in Laramie, Wyoming in June, and; YHS girls wrestling to a camp in Grand Junction in June.
The Consent Calendar included policy parameters and updates for the school nutrition program, and civil rights complaint procedure for school nutrition program.
The board’s next regular meeting will be on June 19 at 7 p.m.