Lamar Getting Four Day School Week

Lamar School Board members cast a unanimous vote in favor of a four-day school week, starting next fall. The pros outweighed the cons among the board members who said the decision was basically driven by less budgeted revenue over the past several years. Last year, Lincoln Elementary school was closed as a cost cutting measure. The details of scheduling will be worked out by the administration before the start of the next school year.

Talara Coen, administrator of Alta Vista Charter School told the board, as she did during discussions last year, the move will be detrimental to Alta Vista students, grades K-6. “Because of the bus schedules, the Alta Vista students will be leaving school later and getting home at a much later hour than before,” she remarked. She recommended the board consider making use of the budget revenues to offset any shortfall being experienced, rather that switch to a four-day week. All other schools in the county are now on a four-day system. Those in favor of the move said the extra time each day will allow teachers to spend additional classroom hours with their students.

Board member Tim Wheaton said he considers Fridays to have become “lost” days. “Some teachers are using Fridays as a testing day for their classes, or that’s the day most classes are taking field trips,” he added. Board vice-president Alan Medina said he’d rather see the school district go to a four-day system, rather than reduce the teaching staff by four persons, and Danny Tinnes said he’d been speaking with Matt Neuhold at the Lamar Recreation Department to see if some classes could be offered on Friday to help fill the classroom void. Some other concerns voiced during last year’s discussion included how the four-day week would impact those families that have younger children. Adjustments will need to be made as to how those youngsters will be cared for if both parents are at work during the day.

Regarding finance, the board members approved the five field trips listed on the Monday evening agenda, but remarked they’d like to see some future cost breakdown on how the funds authorized by the board are being applied. Board president Ron Peterson stated, “I realize that students hold fund-raisers to help offset some of the costs, and if they raise several thousand dollars and we contribute several hundred, that’s okay. What we don’t want to do is contribute several thousand when only $50 has been raised. We just need to know the breakdown.” There was also some discussion if some of the out-of-state trips could be held in Colorado if the subject material was going to be the same. The board was also asked by audience members to rethink cutting the Spanish position at the high school as well as Academic positions at the high and middle schools.

In other action, the board accepted the resignations of administration executive secretary Amy Montgomery for no later than June 30, 2012, as well as the resignation of Jadell Thomas who is marrying and moving out-of-state at the end of the 2011-2012 school year. There was some brief discussion over renewing the contracts for Rocky Robbins, LHS principal, Kenny Davis Washington Elementary principal and Greg Eddy, Assistant Principal at LHS. Board member Tinnes wanted to know if performance evaluations had been completed on all three, and the board voted in favor on renewal when they were told they had been.

The board also approved the hiring of Chela Douglas as assistant for the girl’s soccer team at the high school. Janell Martin, DECA advisor, submitted a letter of appreciation for Naomi Hicks, bus driver for the DECA team during their competition in Colorado Springs, and a letter from Coca Cola corporation was read on behalf of Susana Lira regarding her continued scholarship efforts that will be held in Georgia to determine if she continues for either regional or national competition. Several DECA students also addressed the board, remarking on their perspective of the recent competitions they experienced.

by Russ Baldwin

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