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During its September 11 regular meeting, the Buena Vista Board of Education voted to approve a motion to add a biliteracy certification to school policy.

This will allow students to receive a biliteracy certificate should they demonstrate proficiency in English and an additional language. This will benefit English-speaking students who are learning a second language as well as English Language Learner (ELL) students who are working to become proficient in English.

BVHS Class of 2023 looks ahead to the future. Photo by Carly Winchell.

Spanish Teacher Angelee March presented a proposal for the opportunity at the previous Board meeting. She recapped that Colorado Senate Bill 17-123 authorizes the Local Educational Agency (LEA), such as Buena Vista High School, to grant a Seal of Biliteracy for high school diplomas to graduating students with proficiency or higher in both English and one or more world languages.

Students will be required to demonstrate proficiency in their languages through testing and by presenting half of their senior capstone projects in a language other than English. The school intends to invite community members or guests with native speaker proficiency in the language to ask questions, create a dialogue, and evaluate.

To demonstrate English proficiency, students will need to complete all English Language Arts (ELA) coursework with a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) or higher at the high school level. They also need to achieve a score of 470 or higher on the SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing exam.

To demonstrate proficiency in the other language, students need to score three or higher on the language’s AP Exam if an exam is available for the chosen language. Alternatively, students will need to complete a four-year course of study in the language with at least a 3.0 GPA.

The AAPPL Test is an alternative test option to the AP Exam as well. Students would have to earn a score of I5 or A1 on the AAPPL. If neither an AAPPLnorr AP test is available for the chosen language, students would need to create a Body of Evidence to demonstrate their proficiency.

Students who meet the proficiency requirements will be awarded their certificate upon graduating.

The vote to approve the biliteracy certificate passed five to zero with Vice President Brett Mitchell and Director Olivia Bartlett absent for the September 11 meeting.

District Searching for School Bus Driver for In-town Route

Board Director Lynn Montoya mentioned concerns she had heard in passing from the community concern regarding school bus routes, specifically the lack of a bus driver for an in-town route.

Yates informed the Board that the school is still looking for a bus driver to fill this position, but that the search is complicated by state requirements. School Bus Drivers must have a CDL with an S endorsement according to the state Commercial Driver Handbook. Yates explained that the S endorsement to drive a school bus requires forty additional hours behind the wheel.

“I think that is one of the issues. It’s not just the pay, it’s that the state has made it pretty significantly difficult to get that endorsement,” said Yates.

Montoya floated the idea of getting parent volunteers to help students walk home in town. Yates acknowledged the idea had potential but noted that some students’ homes are quite a long walk from the school, which could be an issue.

Board Reports

Buena Vista School District Logo courtesy

The Board also heard reports from each school’s principal about the start of the school year. The reports were favorable overall, with a unified focus on building a school community by developing relationships with students, families, and each other.

Buena Vista High School (BVHS) Principal Liz Barnaby reported that BVHS was named one of the best high schools in the nation by US News Weekly. US News ranked BVHS 111th in Colorado and 4,280th in the national rankings. Notably, forty-one percent of BVHS students have taken at least one AP Exam.

Barnaby also outlined BVHS’ mission statement which was developed by staff during a development day. “At BVHS we strive to develop young adults that recognize, understand, and take pride in the valuable role they each play in our community and in their future impact on our world,” read Barnaby.

During his presentation titled “Madness and Mania,” Buena Vista Middle School (BVMS) Principal John Emilsson plugged the BVMS Fall Classing Fishing Tournament, which is taking place September 15 at Town Lake. The tournament is open to all BVMS students.

Emilsson emphasized the importance of student accountability at BVMS. “We are not going to let you fail anymore,” said Emilsson.

Chaffee County High School (CCHS) Dean of Students emphasized their data-driven approach with their students with the help of CCHS Teacher Courtney Vicari. This year CCHS students are required to complete at least 150 minutes of online coursework per day. Their success is measured by number of minutes working and number of assignments completed per week. Using the data gathered, teachers can have logical conversations with students about behavior, using data rather than emotion to back up decisions.

Superintendent Lisa Yates and the Board reviewed their compliance with various policies during the monitoring reports. Yates, Board Treasurer Jessica Crites, and Board President Suzette Hachmann all found themselves in compliance with the reviewed policies. Approval for this compliance will be on the consent agenda for the next meeting.

The next meeting for the Buena Vista Board of Education is set for 6:30 p.m. on September 25. The Board will have a linkage with staff and law enforcement that same day before the regular meeting.