School board learns about emergency app

The Yuma schools have a new tool to help communicate and locate people in the case of an emergency.

Yuma High School Principal Brady Nighswonger and School Resource Officer DJ Hass made a presentation about the safety app called Emergent3, during the Yuma-1 Board of Education’s regular meeting this past Monday night at the district office.

Board president John Deering and board members Lindsey Galles, Tyson Brown and Heath Roundtree were in attendance in person, while Terri Cooper participated via phone.

Nighswonger explained that all staff have the app on their phones, as well as on laptops and desktop computers.

First responders such as police, ambulance and fire also are equipped.

A map of each school building in on the app. Staff members can post if they are “safe” or “unsafe” during an emergency and it shows their location. Each building has internal communication, as well as districtwide and first responder communication.

From the first responder position, Hass said the app can show staff where the police are in a building and their movements toward clearing out and securing a building.

Besides something like an active shooter situation, it can be used for other events, such as weather emergencies like a tornado.

Nighswonger said the system is now completely live and nearly everyone has been trained. He said the schools also have two extra phones equipped with the app to check out to substitute teachers, who also are getting trained.

“It is a great tool that we never want to use,” Nighswonger told the board.

Calendar and professional development

The 2024-25 school calendar was approved Monday night, but not before a lengthy discussion about professional development days.

Community member Ronella Noble got the conversation started during the visitors comment portion of the meeting. She noted that Yuma-1 has 20 professional development days included in the calendar, which is twice as many as Wray and Otis, and school districts such as Brush and Haxtun have 14 such days, while other districts have various amounts, including less than 10.

Noble said Yuma-1 could reduce its PD Days by 10 and still have more than some districts. She said those days are important, but having 20 might make Yuma-1 less attractive to potential teachers, and added she would like to see more input from the teachers. She asked that when approving the calendar later in the meeting, the board would address 20 PD Days.

That definitely occurred as the board and Superintendent Dianna Chrisman discussed it at length. Roundtree asked if there still was a calendar committee. Chrisman said there has not been one since the district went to a four-day school week, since there is less flexibility and there is not a lot that can be changed.

Brown said he feels Yuma-1 went to four-day school weeks to attract and retain teachers, and asked then why there are so many more professional development days.

Chrisman said some see it as a benefit, not a hinderance, because those days are helpful to staff in many ways. It allows teachers to have the time to get work done and also work in group settings for support. She said she called several school districts, and said she learned some have more team meetings after the school day as they have less PD Days.

She stressed that the number of PD Days is not a trust issue with the teachers, noting everyone in the district works more hours than contracted.

Galles said she contacted several school districts also, and some that have less PD Days have more student-teacher contact days.

Cooper said it is actually 14 days, but parent-teacher conferences push it higher.

Roundtree asked if all the staff had a chance to see the calendar before being presented Monday night, and was told they have been.

Chrisman reiterated she thinks there is value in professional development days, and has not heard much negative feedback.

Brown said he has heard about it even before he was on the board, and later added he would like to see more input from the staff going forward.

A motion finally was made to approve the calendar as presented. It passed on a 4-1 vote, with Brown voting against, and Roundtree hesitating a bit before voting in favor.

As for the 2024-25 school year, the first day of school will be August 13. The Thanksgiving break is in the last week of November, with school in session Monday and Tuesday. The last school day before Christmas break is December 20, and school resumes January 7. Spring break is the third week in March.

Graduation for the Class of 2025 will be Sundah, May 18. Eighth-grade promotion is on Thursday, May 22, and the last day of school is May 23.

Besides Thanksgiving week, there is one day of Monday school on September 16, but there will not be classes on Friday of that week, September 20.

More meeting

The board unanimously approved a motion formally recognizing that it previously had approved Deering and Financial Officer Sherry Dennis-Murphy as the signers on all accounts at Bank of Colorado, and that Cooper and former board member Duane Brown had been removed.

Chrisman provided updates on new challenges for Universal Pre-Kindergarten, which the state funds at $5,800 per student. There are now questions about situations in which parents want to keep their child in preschool one more year.

Chrisman told the board the lights at the baseball and softball field are going to be taken down in March. As of now, there are no plans to erect new lights. Chrisman said it would be a $750,000 project to put up new lights on both fields.

Approved donations as part of the Consent Calendar were: $248.10 from Ryan Saxton for unpaid lunch accounts; $100 from Don Brown/Trautman Farms for the Ag Department; $500 from Luke Goeglein for YHS girls golf; $288 each from Yuma Booster Club for boys regional wrestling and girls regional wrestling, and; $144 from the Boosters for boys state wrestling and $252 for girls state wrestling.

Recommended hirings approved as part of the Consent Calendar were: Deserae Holtorf as YHS FBLA advisor; Adam Beauprez as YMS assistant wrestling coach; Stephanie Sauer as YHS special education teacher; DJ Hass as YHS Mock Trial sponsor; Denise Rico as MES special education para, and; Amber Taylor as grades 5-8 art teacher. Recommended separations/resignations were for Sara Olsen as grade 4-8 art teacher, and Anehely Lefever as Yuma Preschool para.

Activity trip requests that were ratified were: YHS girls wrestling to Chatfield in January, YHS girls wrestling to Fort Lupton for regional in February, the YHS trip to the Mock Trial Regional Tournament in Glenwood Springs in February, and YHS wrestling to the state tournament in Denver in February.