By Monica Nigon | Staff Writer
At its Aug. 8 meeting, the Archuleta School District (ASD) Board of Education gave a nod to a new bus loop at Pagosa Springs Middle School that could solve backups on Lewis Street.
ASD Director of Operations Josh Sanchez took the floor to give a presentation on a proposed new bus loop at the middle school that would improve safety of students and better manage flow of traffic on Lewis Street during pick-up and drop-off times.
“Lewis Street had some challenges with safety in particular,” Sanchez said. “We’re looking at how to get the buses on campus so students are getting off on campus and getting on on campus versus off the street.”
According to a slide presented by Sanchez, the new route proposes six buses to be ready for boarding and drop-offs on the alley behind the adjacent dentist office, which would remove the parking from that area. Buses would take a right onto Pagosa Street when leaving the school and a left onto 3rd Street when returning.
“This will help with traffic flow,” Sanchez said, adding that traffic is completely stopped on Lewis Street during pick-up and drop-off hours as the loop currently stands.
Sanchez explained they have piloted the new loop with the six buses and it was successful despite the tight turns onto Pagosa Street.
The board unanimously approved the new bus loop.
In other business at the meeting, Superintendent Rick Holt discussed updates to the dress code that would “simplify it.”
“It allows schools to move with the times but keep students accountable,” he said.
Holt noted the updated dress code utilizes the Student Code of Conduct to “determine accessibility,” adding that middle and high school students approved of the language and think it sets “reasonable expectations.”
The board then moved on to address truancy and absence policies.
Holt explained that the days a student can miss without meeting with a truancy court or being referred for withdrawal has been reduced to 20 days rather than 32.
Member Amanda Schick expressed concern that language regarding truancy and absences doesn’t reflect the board’s “philosophy,” especially when it comes to elementary school students, whom she noted have little to no control over their attendance.
Schick asked the board to include the words “when appropriate” to address the matter of penalties like expulsions or suspensions.
It was also discussed that a preamble will be added to the truancy and attendance policy that explains the board’s philosophy in regard to offering support for parents.
Finance Director Mike Hodgson also gave a quarterly investment report at the meeting, which shows that this year the district has had $266,000 in interest income.
“That’s $19,000 or so above what we budgeted in our January revised budget, which was $247,000,” Hodgson said, adding that interest rates increased more than what they anticipated and will increase the budget for the upcoming year.
“We’re very fortunate that interest rates are what they are,” he added.
Hodgson also gave an update on the consolidated grant application, which was approved at the board’s June meeting.
As the meeting’s agenda explains, “The Consolidated Application is completed to access the federal monies allocated through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The application is completed in the spring of each year and becomes effective in the fall of the next school year. … ASD is the Local Education Authority (LEA) for our geographic boundaries and we submit the application on behalf of our students and the students of the charter school.
He noted the total the district applied from Titles I, II and IV was $523,923.
According to the agenda, “Title I monies are used for K-8 instructional purposes (excludes administration and special education programming). Title II monies are used for class size reduction in the elementary school (approximately one teacher’s salary). Title IV is used to promote a safe, rich, and well-rounded education and technology. All monies are shared with the Charter School.”
Hodgson added that they have received preliminary approval from the state, but require some adjustments in the application.
He noted this means they can spend the grant, but will not receive reimbursement until final approval.