Progress is being made with the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs in regards to Yuma School District-1 getting off the American Indians mascot “non-compliant” list.
Superintendent Dianna Chrisman provided an update during the Yuma-1 Board of Education’s regular meeting, this past Monday night at the district office in downtown Yuma. Board president Duane Brown was absent. Vice President John Deering led the meeting in his absence. Also in attendance were board members Thomas Holtorf, Lindsey Galles and Terri Cooper.
The Yuma-1 board voted at its February meeting to go with no mascot for the time being.
The CCIA had its quarterly meeting earlier this month. Chrisman told the board Monday that many districts contacted her afterward wondering why Yuma-1 had not been removed from the non-compliant list. The district actually has been in the process of eliminating some “Indians” imagery on schools’ grounds before April 29, in order to submit documentation to the CCIA in time for its May quarterly meeting.
However, Chrisman said the CCIA now has offered for Yuma-1 to make a special presentation to it at 3:30 p.m. on April 15. She told the board that a lot of work was done over spring break, such as the YMS gym floor being redone to remove the Indians imagery, and the Brent Flaming memorial monument in front of the old entrance to Yuma High School was removed. The wall mats in The Pit at YHS have been removed. Work on the gym floors at YHS will begin soon.
As for the Troy Newton memorial at the northeast corner of The Pit, Chrisman said the family has made arrangements to sandblast the “Indians” mascot off of it for now, and the district later will have discussions about memorials on school district property.
As for other big items regarding “Indians” in the Yuma schools, Chrisman said those will stay up through the end of the school year.
In the end, it appears Yuma-1 is well on its way of getting off the “non-compliant” list by the June 1 deadline and avoid the $25,000 per month month, as dictated by HB 21-116, which was passed into law last year.
Some tweaks were made to the 2022-23 four-day school week calendar. It initially was approved at the February meeting, but the board approved the changes as presented at Monday’s March meeting.
The changes mostly centered around parent/teacher conference days. It was decided to keep them on Mondays, though that will be the day off in the new four-day school week.
The starting date for teachers will be August 8. A planning day has been scheduled for August 29, allowing for teachers to make adjustments with the younger students’ literacy plans after having them in school for a couple of weeks.
School days will be a bit longer due to a four-day week, but not by much, with student days going from 7:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. There will be some Mondays for school, but not many.
The approved calendar has the 2022-23 school year has the first day of classes set for August 16. Thanksgiving break will be Wednesday-Friday, along with the weekend, and then the following Monday as a regular day off. The last day before Christmas break will be Friday, December 16, and school will resume on Tuesday, January 3. Spring break basically will run March 11 (a Saturday) through Monday, March 20, which is a usual Monday off.
Yuma High School graduation is set for Sunday, May 21, 2023, eighth-grade promotion for Thursday, May 25, and the last day of school is Friday, May 26, for everyone else.
The board unanimously approved the 2022-23 school year as presented with the adjustments.
School schedule updates
Related to the four-day school week were updates to schedules at YHS and YMS, though the new schedules are not completely set in stone yet.
YHS Principal Brady Nighswonger told the board Monday night that the school is leaning toward a seven-period day each school day, and reducing graduation credits from 27 to 24. The required credits for the core subjects of math, science, social studies and English will remain the same. The reduction in credits will come in elective classes.
Nighswonger said it will reduce older students filling out their schedules with such endeavors as teachers aide and work study, and instead allow students to focus on certain classes their senior year if they are “college bound” or “career bound.”
It was discussed how high school education was moving away from making every student take classes as if they were going to college.
“Education is different, and trying to find all of our students’ needs is important,” Nighswonger said.
YMS Principal Tonya Rodwell told the board that it also is moving toward a seven-period class day, with every student having every class every school day. She told the board the school is considering two different schedules, one with 60-minute periods, and one with shorter class periods but including a 30-minute advisory period at the end of the day.
Rodwell said YMS recently has implemented the advisory time during mid-day, with students who need help getting it from teachers, while those with “A” “B” and “C” grades can spend it doing their own work, playing computer games or even going to the gymnasium, and it has proved to be very successful and popular.
Chrisman added to the report, noting to the board that an unexpected off-shoot to the seven-period school day is that two teaching openings no longer have to be filled.
The board unanimously approved the list of teacher contracts for the 2022-23 school year.
Chrisman then visited with the board about a compensation schedule for administrators and preschool instructors. She said that in Yuma-1 it has always been left to the superintendent to determine administrator salaries. She said she has found a policy from the Fort Morgan district that would work for Yuma-1 and is a more transparent format. She then went over a new salary schedule for preschool instructors.
Holtorf said he would like to see what the bottom line would be in regards salary changes. The board voted to table the agenda item until those figures could be presented showing the financial impact.
The board unanimously approved the ESSER Budget Grant of $1.2 million, which is COVID-related funds that go toward a variety of projects, as well as 20 percent of it required to go toward learning loss.
Chrisman told the board that the district is looking at a zero increase in health insurance costs if its sticks with United Health Care. However, she said two other companies have provided bids to the district, so a final decision has not been made yet.
Deidre Huwa had addressed the board earlier in the meeting about her hope that substitute teacher pay also would see an increase in the coming school year, after the board approved salary increases at the February meeting.
Chrisman visited that issue later in the meeting, saying the district has been talking about substitute teacher salaries, and possibly having long-term subs, who would go wherever needed on a particular day.
As for salaries, now that the teacher contracts have been approved, salaries for classified employees will be addressed next.
Chrisman told the board that response has been strong in recent weeks in regards to teacher openings. She said some interested applicants have mentioned that Yuma-1’s salary increase and going to a four-day school week were factors in them considering the district.
The board approved the purchase of interactive smart boards for all teaches at YMS, MES and LIP, for a total of $122,006.22. YHS teachers already have the new technology. It is being paid for by an extra $150,000 in state funding, which the district has not received yet, but Chrisman assured the board was a done deal. The purchase is from Strictly Tech.
The consent calendar included a donation of $400 from Bank of Colorado to YHS boys state basketbll, the separation/resignation of Lucy Staggs as MES para, and ratifying the weather school closure on March 10. It also approved the following trip requests: YHS wrestling to the state tournament in February; YHS girls basketball to regional in Rye earlier this month, YHS boys basketball, YHS Cheer and YHS Pep Band to the state tournament earlier this month, YHS students to the state science fair in Fort Collins in April, and YHS students to the International Science Fair in Atlanta, Georgia, in May.