My Trip to Denver: Day Two

This was the day of the CASB Winter Legislative Conference. I was awake when the Super texted me that his room had no water but he had a plumber in the tub. Lol. I offered my shower but they were moving him to another room. It seemed this delegation was cursed. 🙂

The first meeting of the day was for Board Presidents. I actually managed to get there early! Mostly for food and coffee! And to say good bye to Randy Black, a CASB employee.

But I was surprised when my #2, Donna, our Vice President, came in and joined us. Each Prez (and two VPs) took turns telling their problems and what they thought was most important to their district (money!). I was amazed how different we all were; some districts are small cities while some make a good sized class! Donna was very articulate; I was proud of her. And hearing their tales of woe made me feel much better about my own district! And I told them that!

One would think each district was the center of the Colorado educational universe. Maybe I am not cut out for this job!

Afterward, I told Randy I would not be at any more CASB events and that I would miss him. I explained why when he asked; he was a bit incoherent, as most people are when the subject of cancer comes up.

Afterward Donna went to the next session and I went back to bed. But woke up for lunch, dressed and went back downstairs. Turns out this was the best meal of the conference. With the added bonus of having to listen toColorado Lieutenant Governor Garcia speak. It sounded like a campaign speech! Lol. But he is a former educator so could speak authoritatively to us.

Back to my room for more rest. This being so lethargic sucks. My last event of the day was a marathon session reviewing the legislation pending in the legislature.

Finally it wound down and I went on to dinner with a friend at Annie’s on E. Colfax.

It seemed odd to be winding up my life already but there was no doubt by now that I am limited in what I can do. Thank the Goddess for the Internet to keep in touch. Little did I realize the next day would be even more significant.

My Trip to Denver: Day One

There were four of us (three BoE members and the school Super) going to a Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) Winter Legislative Conference. This is a one day thing primarily about legislation affecting schools.

But the logistics were more complex than I expected. Our Superintendent, at the last minute, decided to not drive the school sedan. He wanted to drive his own SUV so he could go hang with his brother and also stay over a day or so. So I called the other Board members going and recruited one of them to drive.

So we eventually all met at the school for the journey to Denver. Little did I know this trip would be a life changing event for me.

The trip up took much longer than we planned due to traffic as we arrived in The Big City during rush hour. As we neared our destination at the Downtown Comfort Inn, our Super took the lead and we seemed to circle around for a while before pulling into the valet parking at the hotel.

We checked in and went to our rooms with plans to meet in the lobby in a half hour. It didn’t work out for me!

My room was a mess!

The tan bag on the bed is mine.

At first I thought the hotel had left a meal in lieu of a fruit basket but quickly realized the beer bottles in the ice bucket were empty! How rude!

There was crap everywhere yet the bed looked unused. I texted the Super that I would be changing rooms since this one was used. His reaction was, “I hope there isn’t a dead hooker in the bathroom!”. There wasn’t. 😉

I called the “Operator” who called the front desk to move me. This is the first Choice Hotel, my usual chain of choice, I have been in where the “Operator” on the phone is NOT the front desk! Soon a succession of staff came by; the first hardly spoke English and apparently was to verify I wasn’t pranking the hotel! The one who actually helped me move wore full livery with lots of braid. I told him if the beer bottles had been full, I would have stayed! My first room was on the 8th floor; my new one was on the 11th.

He did as I told him: toss my stuff (four small bags) on the bed then handed me my new room cards. I unpacked a few things then went down to join the group to go to dinner.

We walked the two blocks to the 16th Street Mall. Out-of-towners like us get confused expecting an enclosed shopping center but this is literally a “mall”: a place where you walk. It is over a mile long and the only vehicles allowed on it are cops and electric buses. The buses are very unique since RTD decided to build the things themselves to their specifications when no one would even bid on the project!

It turns out, the Super wanted to go to the brewpub on The Mall and we all hopped a bus for a several block ride (It is free.). It was called the Rock Bottom Brewery but was much better than the name implies! And the place was packed on a Wednesday night! Weekends most have a waiting line. This is actually a chain of brewpubs all over the US. I had LOBSTER & SHRIMP TACOS (Two housemade tacos with Pepper Jack cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo, and citrus sauce in a crisp blue corn tortilla, wrapped with a soft flour tortilla. Served with black beans and Red Ale rice.) and a glass of KÖLSCH.

By the time our meal and conversation was over, I was done in. We went to the bus stop across the street; I leaned against the map sign while they stood nearby and chatted. A young man came over and asked if he could “pray for me”. I declined so he asked again! After he left, the Super asked if I still had my wallet! (I did.)

At this point I realized I had become part of the 16th Street Scene! That was reinforced when I got on the bus and a young lady began to tease me about having a “big evening”. I just told her I was tired; she laughed. I must have looked like I had overindulged! Wow! One beer and I was over my limit. Even the bus driver nagged me to get out from in front of the doors! I moved across the aisle, alarming a guy hanging from the next strap. He checked his wallet and moved over a bit! We got to our stop and I am sure some people were watching to see if I would go face down on the sidewalk. I didn’t.

Turns out we had gone a block too far so had to walk a block back to our street! Needless to say, when I got in my room (and I actually remembered which was mine!), I quickly got ready for bed and went right to sleep.

I had gained a new persona as a 16th Street Mall street person! That wasn’t even on my bucket list!

Valentines 2012

I had library duty this day so left before anyone was awake. But I did find a Valentines card on my keyboard.

I left mine on her keyboard! It had a cheesy poem that ended in “cute butt”. 😉 So both our cards were about her sexy body!

I went on to school and had a very quiet shift. A couple of teachers and some older kids who checked out books. Mostly I read my Kindle.

I did have an In School Suspension (ISS) to watch. This is a student being punished and is restricted to the library. Or wherever I give him permission to go. 😉 My prisoners don’t suffer and, since I don’t have any instructions, I am not violating my orders.

None of my charges have ever been a problem. This is an interesting way to meet members of the student body.

Eventually lunch arrived. I usually eat at the teachers’ tables but only a couple of teachers were there. Soon a few more appeared but one came over and said they should be at an inservice. So they all got up and left! I asked if it were something I said and one teacher said it was and I should be quiet!

There is no doubt that the staff was stirred up! I hope the Board’s eventual decision will calm the emotions.

Board Meeting 2/13/12

This meeting brought back memories of last February’s meeting and the rockslide which interrupted it. Also that day we finalized the short list of candidates for our Superintendent search.

This time we didn’t get interrupted by the lights going out! We had a full agenda including several executive session items. The most important one was declaring a “fiscal exigency” (opens PDF).

The courts have recognized two general categories that might give rise to a “justifiable decrease” in the number of teaching positions: fiscal exigency and program change. A fiscal exigency may occur any time a school district is unable to maintain staffing at existing levels for financial reasons. This may be due to a decrease in student enrollment, increased costs, or budgetary cuts. A program change refers to any elimination, curtailment, or reorganization of curriculum, or a reorganization or consolidation of schools. A program change may or may not be related to a fiscal exigency. Declining student enrollment across the entire school district is not required to justify the cancellation of teachers’ contracts. If enrollment in a particular program has declined, the board may justifiably eliminate teaching positions in that program.

It is the board’s role to determine when a fiscal exigency or need for program change exists. When the board makes this determination, the board’s decision is considered a legislative act. Ring v. Springfield Sch. Dist. RE-2, Case No. 90CV37 (Baca County Dist. Ct. 1992); Snyder v. City of Lakewood, 542 P.2d 371, 375-76 (discussing legislative v. judicial authority). Due to the constitutional separation of powers between the different branches of government, the board’s legislative acts are
subject to limited court review and may only be challenged on constitutional grounds for an arbitrary abuse of authority. Snyder, 542 P.2d at 375.

Accordingly, as long as there is a rational underlying basis for the board’s determination that a fiscal exigency exists or program change is necessary, the board’s determination will withstand a legal challenge that the determination was merely a pretext for the teacher’s dismissal.

This is in preparation for our having to fire some teachers. 😦 Our policy states that the Superintendent has 30 days to present a plan to the Board to reach our objectives. I was really surprised by the reaction of the teaching staff toward me. Suddenly none of them wanted to talk to me! Like anything they say will be used against them. We had managed to not have to actually fire anyone up to now; there were enough retirements to reduce staff “naturally”.

So this and other issues about layoffs were stressful. There were also a few stressful executive session items, as well.

Toward the end of the Executive Session, I excused myself to go potty and handed control over to my #2, Donna Nicholas-Griesel, the Vice-President. By the time I got back, the meeting was adjourned!

The School Board Officer Election

I left for the November meeting of the Fremont RE-3 (Cotopaxi) Board of Education meeting early so I could: pick up the mail; buy some gallon jugs of drinking water at the Cotopaxi Store; and get a box of wine at Bighorn Liquor, a block west. After my errands in town, I went up CoRd12 to school.

I got there early but so did many others! So instead of reading on my Kindle, I chatted. This was a special meeting since Dan Ogden, an 8 year veteran, was leaving, being term limited, and a new Board member, Tony Reid would be sworn in. Actually two other Board members would be sworn also as they were filling partial terms before the non-election. None of the positions were contested so the school cancelled the election to save money.

After the swearing in ceremony, we broke for brownies and tea. And Dan was awarded a gavel with an inscription of his service and I made a speech which embarrassed him (“Sure getting deep in here.”)!

When we reconvened, the Board then “reorganized” by electing new officers. And I began my new adventure: being President of our Board of Education. I did NOT campaign for this job but had it thrust upon me! Last month Dan was unable to be there so I filled in as President for the very first time! It was good training for my new job. Lol.

This is gonna be an ugly term for the Board with money being so tight. But I feel up to the job since John McCleary, the new Superintendent, and I work together well. He has a good grip on our finances and I know the last few years of the school’s financial history. And I bought a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order!

I meant to get a picture of the new Board and had the camera on the table in front of me but with all the stuff going on, I spaced it!

I was hoping the power was on when I got back home but it wasn’t. I knew three miles from the house as I passed one dark home after another. Donna had been busy with setting up the handwashing station and putting all the stuff in the fridge on some shelves in our Water House where it hovers just above freezing.

The shelves are near the back steps. The water in the tanks help stabilize the temperature. These shelves were filled with food!

I forgot my cell phone which I had taken to charge. Super John had called her that he had it. She was glad he called because she knew I was on my way home. They apparently had a good conversation and he said the next day she is a very nice woman. I told him she had to be to put up with me. Lol.

While I was sitting with her and babbling about the meeting, I wound down some. She kept saying she was going to bed when I ran down. But at 10:30 she suddenly yelled “The power tried to come on!”. I didn’t see anything but she had seen an LED nightlight flash. Then it did it again. One more time and it stayed on while lots of stuff in our house came on: the furnace, the water pump, and the refrigerator. For almost a minute! Lol. She headed for bed; they had their chance to impress her and failed. I had to stay up after this hope was raised. There were two more tries after a half hour while they fixed something. Then it came on and stayed on! Yay!!

The heat came on and the fridge got up and cooling. I sent some e-mails before I went to bed.

And I got to sleep with my CPAP on! That was soo sweet!

While the refrigerator was empty, she took all the shelves out and washed them. It hasn’t been this clean since we moved in! Usually only one shelf at a time gets washed! While I was at school Tuesday doping my library duty, she moved the stuff back in the cooler.

Everything is so neat, in lines and all sorted! And, with all the spoiled/dated food gone, roomy!

What a long, busy weekend.