The Haxtun-Fleming Herald - What can we reason but from what we know? -Alexander Pope

By Candie Fix
Managing Editor 

Haxtun BOE holds first in-person meeting since February

 


For the first time in two months members of the Haxtun Board of Education met in person, this time in the school’s cafeteria to allow social distancing for members and administration.

In March and April, the group met via Zoom due to pandemic restrictions. The recent COVID-19 pandemic not only has local meetings looking much different these days, it also has educators in a whole new world of learning as they prepare for next year; not only with expected budget cuts but also with the possibility of changes to in-person learning.

In her report to the BOE, Superintendent Darcy Garretson first told members she is thankful for school staff as the unusual end to the school year wraps up.

“I have been so full of thanks for the staff at school,” Garretson said. “It’s been a while new experience for everyone involved, but I feel like staff did a tremendous job of reaching out to students and continuing to educate them.”

While instructional delivery to students has finished for the year, Garretson said staff have still been at school working to get students checked out, grades finalized and rooms readied for summer. She also noted that work as begun on the agriculture shop roof and that she is working to get hard information on the entire building project as it wraps up.

Elementary and Junior High School Principal Becky Heinz reported that student check in and locker clean out went well and that middle school math reported 98 percent completion of assignments during remote learning.

Heinz said preschool staff have been looking at scheduling for the coming year, with 10 students per class with four classes per day.

“Remote learning for preschool is especially challenging,” Heinz added. “Face-to-face learning for preschoolers is preferred.”

On a different note, Heinz told board members that the District plans to continue with free lunches through June 30.

High School Principal Alan Nall echoed what the two administrators before him said in commending both staff and students on how well they have adapted to the current pandemic situation. He said that while no decisions have been made on what the coming year will look like for learning, he is working on class schedules.

Other than discussion on next year’s budget and cuts expected from the State, the Board approved resolution 271 — Fair Tax Colorado.

The resolution, in support of emergency funding relief in the midst COVID-19, outlines the financial situation Colorado schools were facing prior to the pandemic.

“Public education has not recovered from the great recession of 2008 when the legislature stabilized the State’s economy by borrowing $8 billion from educators and still owes $572 million. Underfunding has already resulted in cuts that impact student mental health (Colorado ranks the sixth highest in teen suicide), achievement gaps that are amongst the highest in the country and instruction and students supports (60 percent of Colorado districts are on four-day school weeks).”

With the current pandemic, Colorado schools will require more revenue, not less, to reopen with the following needs: over 100,000 students lack access to WIFI and Internet; catch-up learning to address gaps created in the pandemic; mental health and social emotional supports; staggered schedules, personal protective equipment and social distancing; and professional development for distance learning.

“The Haxtun School District calls on the State legislature to use their power to pass an emergency temporary tax relief measure immediately by raising taxes on those earning more than $250,000 in order to raise substantial revenue, while also cutting taxes for all others in order to alleviate the disproportionate tax burden our low-income families,” the resolution ends.

With passing that resolution in regards to funding, board members continued discussion on the 2020-21 budget and plans for the coming school year. “At this time, I feel we need to begin a thoughtful, deliberate look at all aspects of school to better set our priorities as we plan for re-opening in the fall,” Garretson said.

The BOE voted to set a special work session date for June 9 to continue to work on next year’s budget.

“I would like for this to be a purely brainstorming session to look at all facets of the budget to consider,” Garretson said. “My best guess at this time is that we will have to come up with $200,000 worth of cuts to start the year.”

 

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