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!


Valentine’s Day Week, February 2012

This was a long week starting with a busy School Board meeting on Monday night and events extending into this weekend. It turned out to be a life-changing week and my adventures will be posted in several installments here. For reasons I don’t understand, I didn’t take many pictures. There were so many interesting scenes I should have documented. I am gonna have to fire myself as my own documentarian!

Almost all this week revolved around Cotopaxi School stuff. As Jackie Gleason opened his show, “And awa-a-aay we go!”

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.

The School Play

Donna and I went to the second (and last) performance of the play our school Drama Club put on on Thursday and Friday nights. I had mentioned to Misty, the producer, that I might take one of the minor parts when I heard she was asking for cameos by adults. But the schedule for the play fell just after my eye treatment so I could not commit to being there.

The play was named “A Deadly Medley”, a collection of dramatic scenes from Shakespeare. Everyone ended up dead on the stage! 35 of our students were in it and it garnered a lot of money ($600) for the dramatists. It was obvious the kids enjoyed it; it was very fast paced and I was amazed everyone came out the right doors on cue! I am glad I went since we haven’t attended many events at the school.

This is the cast at curtain call.

More Prison, uh, School Construction

I got some more pictures of the Salida Prison School construction. I mentioned to the waitress at Wallbangers which is diagonally across the corner from this project how it looks like a prison! She laughed and agreed!

But there ARE some windows.

On the east side. This is taken from the Wallbangers parking lot, SE of the school. You can see they are setting the steel roof trusses.

This is from the opposite side on the NW. No windows here, either! I hope this is a gym they are building. I absolutely can’t tell from the plans on the school website.

I can’t tell north from south. And there is another “concept” drawing entirely different. And the architect “explained” that, yeah, the plans had changed since the earlier one is a ”
bubble drawing”! But for sure they are gonna spend $23,700,000 to replace the high school. With something.

OK. Digging through the picture pages, I learned these two buildings are the Gym and auditorium.

New Juvie Prison

Donna and I went to Salida and behind the Pancake Patio Place is a construction project. From the lack of windows, it looks like a prison.

Oh, wait! This is new addition to the High School!

Personally, I liked the tall crane being used for the roof panels.

It has become a landmark along US50.

Reasons Young Americans Don’t Fight Back: How the US Crushed Youth Resistance

I don’t agree with all this but it does explain me! I have ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) and all this time I just thought I was odd! Lol.

The opposition to NCLB seems quixotic. The crux of the opposition, to me, seems that it doesn’t matter if the kids learn anything. I once proposed at a stunned meeting of CASB* to quit testing and just mail out diplomas. It didn’t exactly garner any applause. Lol.

But the thesis is correct: keep them feeling helpless and not thinking.

The ruling elite has created social institutions that have subdued young Americans and broken their spirit of resistance.


*CASB = Colorado Association of School Boards

School Bear

While we had a bear, they had one at school! The wildlife people brought one they had captured for the kids to see.

I asked if they need a second one! I don’t know the details; this was sent by the Superintendent. He did enjoy the kids looking over the bear through the fence.

As long as one doesn’t wander through our campus. I would be more worried about the older boys thinking they could take one down!