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

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By Candie Fix
Managing Editor 

Edwards resigns from BOE; new member sought


There is an empty seat on the Haxtun Board of Education. Board members accepted a resignation from Audree Edwards in a Tuesday evening, May 16 meeting due to employment changes that no longer allow her to serve on the local school board. The Board now has 60 days to appoint someone to fill her seat until elections this November. At that time, five of the seven seats that make up the local board will be up for election.

The May board meeting opened with the approval of Edwards’ resignation from the school board. She was later approved as the District’s new sixth great teacher and elementary counselor. Board members are not permitted to be employees of the District, therefore before she could be granted employment, Edwards was required to resign her elected seat.

Edwards joined the Haxtun School Board in November 2019 and has served through several big changes including moving to a four-day school week as well as hiring a new superintendent.

The Board of Education is currently seeking interested persons to fill Edwards’ seat on the Board. For more information on filling a seat, contact Superintendent Marsha Cody at (970) 774-6111 or [email protected]. The appointed individual will serve until November and at that time should they wish to stay on the Board, would have to seek a seat in elections. Plans are to appoint a replacement during the June 20 meeting of the Board of Education.

Four other seats, those currently held by Amy Kilgour, Richard Starkebaum, Steven Hadeen and Abby Henry will be up for election in November. To run for a seat, candidates will need to complete a nomination packet including collecting a petition with the signature of 25 eligible district voters. A call for nominations will officially be published in August.

At the start of the meeting, members of the Facilities Master Planning Committee presented to members of the board of education. The committee formed earlier this year to help determine facility needs of the District, specifically following local efforts to raise funds for an auxiliary gym. In March, a fundraising gala brought in over $45,000 to put towards a project to build a new gym.

Jeff Plumb, Haxtun Vo-Ag Teacher and member of the Facilities Master Planning Committee, told the board that while that is a good start, it’s a long shot from having what is needed to build a new gym. He later said estimates for a basic auxiliary gym total nearly $8 million.

Recently, the Haxtun School District signed a contract with Wold Architects & Engineers to develop a facilities master plan to help identify, analyze and prioritize facility needs, short term and long term, while considering architectural, mechanical and electrical review, incorporation of Colorado Department of Education assessments, educational programing, cost estimates for capital planning, demographic data, enrollment projects and facility capacity analysis while gathering community and district personnel input. Wold has also sought out information regarding funding sources and support.

Over the past few weeks, Wold representatives and the Facilities Master Planning Committee hosted two community meetings to help identify both needs and wants. Those community meetings drew nearly 60 members who listened to the presentation, asked questions and offered input.

Plumb said the goal of the Facilities Master Planning Committee is to look at the bigger picture and the needs of the District as a whole. According to Wold’s findings Haxtun’s population and the District’s enrollment numbers have remained steady for several decades and predictions indicate numbers will remain steady.

Several concerns of the campus now include a 70 year old ag building with a lengthy list of deficiencies including ventilation and the existing water heater, the flow of students to and from not only the ag shop but elementary to the high school for library and high school through the halls of the elementary to the cafeteria, the use of junior high locker rooms as bathrooms for elementary students and the lack of electrical access in the elementary. The lack of ADA accessible features is also an issue.

One major concern, pointed out by Elementary Principal Becky Heinz, is the use of the junior high locker rooms as primary restrooms for elementary students. She said that while junior high students have their own restrooms, they do use the locker rooms for PE class and sports, which at times puts junior high and elementary students in the same bathrooms at the same time.

That same concerns arises when elementary students go to the high school for library. If during that time an elementary student needs to use the rest room, they either use the same restrooms as high school students or must be escorted down to the elementary, which creates a loss in instructional time.

Plumb told the local BOE that while there are limited resources for funding for school facilities, there is one that funds the majority of school construction and that is BEST. However, BEST will not fund an auxiliary gym alone. According to the Colorado Department of Education’s website, BEST provides an annual amount of funding in the form of competitive grants to school districts, charter schools, institute charter schools, boards of cooperative educational services and the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind. BEST funds can be used for the construction of new schools as well as general construction and renovation of existing school facility systems and structures.

Based on their own findings and using input gathered from community meetings, Wold presented eight options to the Facilities Master Planning Committee. Of the eight, the Committee has recommended one to the Haxtun Board of Education for consideration.

The option recommended by the Facilities Committee includes a $48 million project that would focus on replacement of the elementary wing and ag shop. The preliminary scope includes converting the existing middle school into a new administration wing, a new elementary school addition with an auxiliary gym and a new middle school and ag shop addition to the high school. It would also include new finishes in the high school, a new cafeteria and kitchen. The new elementary school addition would include a preschool area, addressing major deficiencies in that area of the current building including State regulations that need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

The way to do it, Plumb said, would be to utilized the District’s 3.5 million debt capacity via a bond as a match to a possible BEST grant. “At some point, we have to leverage what we’ve got against what we can get,” Plumb said.

The projected cost of an entire new school building for Haxtun is nearly $70 million, according to Wold. Kiowa, a school similar in size, recently received a BEST grant for a whole new school, which totaled $65 million.

“You get your best bang for your buck here,” said JD Stone, a member of the Facilities Master Planning Committee. He said that according to feedback from the two public meetings, community members would rather wait for a long-term solution rather than continuing to band-aid existing problems.

“This is the smartest use of where we are at at this time,” Plumb said. Adding that the solution fixes the majority of deficiencies and concerns while also constructing an auxiliary gym that would allow the school to play junior varsity and varsity games at the same time and to host competitive tournaments.

“This provides us some opportunities and gives some positive outcomes for the project while leveraging building an ag shop to be able to do all of it,” Plumb said.

The presentation to the Board was informational and no action was taken, however, the Board does plan to discuss and take action on the proposal in June.

In other business the Board:

• Approved a two-year contract ending June 2025 for Superintendent Marsha Cody;

• Approved a new certified salary schedule raising the base salary to $38,000 with a Bachelor’s Degree and to $40,688 with a Master’s Degree;

• Approved the following resignations: Pat Wiebers as the band/music teacher; Becky Williams as a special education teacher; Stan Kennedy as high school math; Jeney Torres as paraprofessional and Don and Debbie Myers as route bus drivers;

• Approved Colleen Lockwood as junior/senior high secretary;

• Approved Shawn Cody as high school social studies teacher;

• Approved Haley Edwards as junior high science teacher;

• Approved Elijah Myers as a substitute teacher;

• Approved Kyle Wilson as a volunteer girls basketball coach.


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