February 5, 2023

State Board to visit Mesa Elementary for turnaround plan

The Montezuma-Cortez Board of Education swears in Lyndreth Wall as board director for District D, south of Cortez, Thursday, January 19. (screenshot from zoom)

The Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 Board of Education on Thursday sworn in Lyndreth Wall as District D director and discussed special education, student safety and mid-year data to ensure intervention efforts are producing desired results.

“Congratulations and welcome, Member Wall,” said Superintendent Tom Burris. “It has been a pleasure working with you since returning to Cortez and I look forward to a great collaboration and conversation.”

The meeting originally scheduled for Tuesday 17 January had been postponed due to snow.

District Special Education Training

In his superintendent’s report, Burris noted that the February 21 meeting would be different from previous meetings. The meeting is moderated and the in-person and remote audiences are guided through the meeting to show why the board is doing what they are doing.

“This will provide excellent boardmanship training and also serve to educate the public,” Burris said.

He also spoke of the district-wide special education required for all directors and assistant directors. After speaking with Nicci Crowley of the LOR Foundation, Burris said they would receive a $6,500 contribution to be used for training.

The LOR Foundation works with “rural communities in the west of the mountains to improve quality of life and prosperity while preserving the traits that make each community unique.” Burris also informed board members that they were invited to attend the training and he had extended the invitation to neighboring districts as well.

Data Analysis of Mid-Year Intervention Efforts

Jim Parr, Executive Director of Student Academic Services, presented the full mid-year STAR data for reading and math after intervention efforts were launched for struggling students.

The data Parr showed the board was based on the beginning of the year versus mid-year and included aggregate data divided into three groups — Kindergarten through Grade 5, Grades 6-8, and Grades 9-12.

Parr said the data showed positive progress for students in math and reading and it was imperative to continue the effort.

Overall, data from earlier in the year showed that 32% of students in the district required urgent intervention with reading, 21% required intervention, and only 24% met or exceeded benchmarks.

Now, mid-year data shows that 28% need urgent intervention, 17% need intervention, and 30% have met or exceeded benchmark scores.

Similar results were seen in mathematical levels. At the start of the year, 24% of students needed urgent interventions, 20% needed interventions, and 32% met or exceeded the benchmark. Now, 18% are in urgent need of intervention, 18% are in need of intervention, and 42% have met or exceeded the benchmark.

Parr said he works with staff on Fridays to review and analyze performance data. Staff are planning for the second half of the school year and hope to increase percentages even more as they prepare for state tests in March and April.

Mesa Elementary receives a visit from the State Board

Because of Mesa Elementary’s sustained low rating under the Colorado Department of Education’s performance framework, the school is being visited and reviewed to determine how the state can help the school improve its rating.

The elementary school has received a ‘Turnaround’ state accreditation rating and is required to adopt and implement a turnaround plan and demonstrate improvements.

The panel will visit Mesa in mid-March and speak with school staff, facility managers, parents, students and board members to produce a report with recommendations on where the school can improve and areas they specifically need help with.

Safety plans for students

The assistant superintendent’s report highlighted the new contingency plan that is in the works for the high school. He found that in a survey, students had told them that they felt most unsafe in the school parking lot. Therefore, efforts are made to make students feel more comfortable in this area.

The final revision will be submitted to the Board for consideration at the special meeting on February 7th. The plan is put together by the district security team, which included the school’s emergency business manager, the police chief, the sheriff, the Cortez fire chief, the Cortez EMS security manager, and the Colorado State Patrol Captain.

Other things

The Board approved the acceptance of donations totaling $3,000 from UMUT Farm and Ranch Enterprises and Arrow Brand LLC in exchange for two banners to be displayed at high school activities and events.

The next school board meeting will be on February 21 at 6 p.m

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