Monday evening’s meeting of the Buena Vista Board of Education signaled the end of an era for a number of sitting members. Five seats are open during the Tuesday, November 7 election, with only Board Vice President Brett Mitchell up for reelection in District 1. No matter what happens on election day, the Buena Vista School District is set to experience some changes with four or five fresh faces joining the board.
Candidates Paula Dylan, Mallory Brooks, and George Richardson were present at the meeting. Candidate Montana Brown attended briefly and left early.
Despite the upcoming changes, the Board set to business as usual on Monday evening as they heard the principals’ presentations on how students demonstrate being character-centered.
The Board also unanimously approved a soft rollout of a purchase card program for athletics and discussed the upcoming Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) conference for new board members. New members attend the conference to get their first foray into the School Board.
While scheduling for the next few linkages was discussed, the Board ultimately decided it was best to wait for their new members to ensure the best timing.
Purchase Card Resolution Approved
In an effort to increase efficiency and accountability, the BOE approved a resolution allowing the district to use Purchase Cards with lower limits. The cards will be rolled out first to coaches, who often need to make purchases while on the road with athletes.
Finance Director Janice Martin explained that the new cards will allow coaches to take a picture of receipts with their phone to submit them immediately rather than needing to hold onto them throughout an entire trip. While making it easier to submit receipts, this will also increase accountability because a follow up purchase will not be allowed until the previous receipt is submitted.
“If no receipt is tied to it, the purchase card won’t work,” explained Martin. The hope is this will save time both for athletics and accounting.
Additionally, the limits on the card can be set to the budget, ensuring purchases do not exceed available funds.
If all goes well and any potential bugs are worked out with this slow roll out, purchase cards may be extended to teachers in the future to better enable them to use their classroom funds.
The Grove, Avery Parsons, Buena Vista Middle School (BVMS), Buena Vista High School (BVHS), and Chaffee County High School (CCHS) principals joined Tuesday evening’s meeting to present on how their students are character-centered.
According to the district’s website, character-centered means “understanding yourself and having the courage to act with integrity in the service of others.” This is done by “taking responsibility for my actions and my personal well-being, and implementing strategies to continue to grow” and “acting with integrity in the service of others, being grateful, kind, joyful, humble, respectful, honest, and selfless.”
Each school provided evidence of this trait, beginning with BVMS. Principal John Emilsson ceded the floor to Middle School Technology Teacher Carrie Kleber and Middle School Counselor Amie Urbine. Urbine and Kleber co-teach the Bigger Picture class for eighth grade, which helps students transition into high school.
They explained that each semester, students pick a project to give back to the community, such as Socktober Fest where students collect and donate winter clothes for shelters or simpler tasks like going outside to pick up trash. Essentially students have to generate ideas for how to “live beyond yourself” and benefit others.
CCHS Dean of Students Kelly Chandler presented with Counselor and Behavior Specialist Jason Swick on how being character-centered is built into the fabric of CCHS. CCHS has long focused on volunteer work and community outreach.
They also emphasize conflict resolution in the moment and holding students accountable. Swick explained they ask this of students and staff and strive to treat everyone involved as people to talk about it and come together to find a solution. Swick credited CCHS’ small population to better allow for one-on-one discussion.
The Grove Director Dione Garritson centered her discussion on early childhood development and outlined where students should be from one to five-years old:
- At one year, a child should respond to other’s emotional expressions and show an awareness of how that person is behaving.
- At two years, a child should demonstrate concern for the feelings of others.
- At three years, they should consistently demonstrate that concern.
- At four years, they should be able to accurately identify the basic emotional reactions of others and the cause of that emotion.
- At five years, they should recognize that the feelings of others may differ from their own.
One of the examples Garritson provided was a student who was able to identify that another was upset because they had been forced to share a toy.
BVHS Principal Liz Barnaby focused on students being at service to others, such as students in the foods class who brought in family recipes to share with their peers. She also highlighted shops class, where about half of the students were designing projects intended as gifts for others.
Elementary School Principal Emily Madler emphasized the importance of being intentional. She explained how classroom parents banded together to bring a little Halloween fun into learning by using candy corn pumpkins for projects and experiments. Madler also explained that students are working on gratitude journals over the next month.
From pre-school to graduation, it is clear that the schools in the district put a strong emphasis on community and character-centered education.
Monitoring and Other Reports
Martin delivered a quick update on finances, covering the audit, which is included in the meeting packet.
Facilities and IT Director Kevin Hargrove delivered a brief report on facilities. Overall, most things remained similar to the previous year, though a lightning strike did cause nearly $10,000 worth of damages to BVHS according to Hargrove. He also reported that response time is down by about an hour with the implementation of a new work order application, which has increased timeliness and efficiency.
Superintendent Lisa Yates reviewed administrative policies D and F, which focus on financial administration and the naming of facilities. No changes were made to these policies, though Yates did recommend that Policy DBD 18 be changed to reflect “education” rather than “performance” increases. This change was not put to a vote. A full list of district policies is available online here.
Yates also provided an overview of how the facilities are properly maintained to provide a safe learning environment for students during the monitoring report. She cited updates to the Sprung building, such as the HVAC system being installed and the CCHS offices being finished.
Director Stacey Moss, who is on the Elementary/Preschool Campus Committee, reported that plans for the new preschool have been received but not yet reviewed. Crites reported that the District Accountability Committee (DAC) has mostly completed their charge of researching Artificial Intelligence (AI) and hope to present to the Board soon. After some discussion, there was consensus between Yates and the Board that it would be best to wait for that presentation to give teachers and staff more time to review the findings and allow room for the DAC to review any emergent news in the field.
The consent agenda and the minutes from the previous BOE meeting were both approved unanimously.
During Board communication, exiting Board President Suzette Hachmann added a few words on her time leading the BOE. “I am thankful for all the things that I’ve been able to see and learn and do and to be a part of all this for so long.”
The full agenda and packet for the November 6 BOE meeting is available on the district’s website here.
The next meeting is set for Monday, November 27. The Board will convene at 5:00 p.m. for a work session and the regular meeting will begin a half hour earlier than usual at 6:00 p.m.