January 5, 2021, Board Work Session

COVID-19 Update

Schools returned from Winter Break on Jan. 6. Classes are in-person with protocols in place. The district is still operating D51 Online with approximately 2,200 students, which is a decrease of about 1,000 students from the start of first semester. In addition, the quarantine window has been reduced from 14 days to 10 days for people who have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Staff can return within six days with a negative test result. Details about when students can return after testing negative are being finalized.
The COVIDCheck Colorado drive-up testing sites that opened in the parking lots at Fruita Monument High School and Grand Mesa Middle School in December will continue to operate through the end of March. FMHS and GMMS were selected because they are on different ends of the valley and offer easier traffic flow than some other parking lots. About 800 people associated with D51 have used the testing sites, but testing is free and open to the public, and operates from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Those tested are never inside schools nor mix with students. D51 staff and students can sign up for appointments here, or the general public can sign up here.
In addition, D51 staff are communicating with Mesa County Public Health about COVID-19 vaccinations. School staff have been moved up to Phase 1B for vaccination, and vaccines for D51 employees will be free. More details will be shared as they become available.

2021-22 Calendar Presentation

The Calendar Committee presented two potential calendars for the board to peruse. The committee surveyed thousands of D51 employees and families and created the drafts based on their feedback, while also keeping in mind a list of considerations, including balanced quarters with an end to second quarter before Winter Break, trying to align as much as possible with Colorado Mesa University and Western Colorado Community College calendars, and trying to limit the number of weeks with fewer than five school days, known as "broken weeks." 
Both drafts start school Aug. 9, 2021, for students, end first semester on Dec. 17, and end second semester on May 19, 2022. The differences between the two drafts would be having an elementary planning and middle school in-service day on Nov. 29 or April 15 and having a work day on Jan. 4 or 18. Board members will reflect on the drafts and vote on a calendar at the Jan. 19 board business meeting.
current high school boundary line

Boundary Discussion

Shannon Bingham, D51 contract demographer, discussed potential boundary changes that would impact multiple schools. The changes were discussed in November and December during numerous Zoom meetings that were open to the public. The three potential shifts are detailed below:
  1. FMHS/GJHS - This potential change could shift the boundary between Fruita Monument and Grand Junction high schools west to include the Scenic, Broadway, and potentially some of the Wingate attendance areas in GJHS boundaries.
  2. Appleton/Tope/Pomona - This potential change would alleviate crowding at Appleton by moving some Appleton students to Pomona and some Pomona students to Tope.
  3. Wingate/Broadway - This potential shift would move one neighborhood from Wingate to Broadway.
More than 2,000 people took surveys about the potential changes. Fifty-eight percent of people taking the high school survey support boundary changes to ease crowding in Fruita, while 22% would prefer to add modular classrooms. For the elementary surveys, 48% support the Appleton/Tope/Pomona shift (31% would prefer to add modulars) and 67% support the Wingate/Broadway shift (18% support the addition of modulars). 
There are also some boundary changes suggested by stakeholders that have not been discussed in Zoom meetings or surveys. These suggestions include moving some neighborhoods south of G Road (or south of I-70) east of the Business Loop from FMHS to GJHS boundaries, having students directly north of the western section of Pomona's boundaries between I-70 and G Road move from Appleton to Pomona instead of Appleton students west of Pomona boundaries, and moving students who live near the Colorado River in the far eastern section of the Wingate boundaries to Scenic Elementary.

Agenda Items

The board took the following actions at Tuesday's meeting:
* First Reading of updates to Board Policy JKD/JKE: Student Suspension/Expulsion
* Contract approved with AMN, a business that helps schools cover hard-to-fill positions, such as jobs for physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, psychologists, therapy assistants and clinicians.

United Way Drawing

D51 employees have pledged $68,157 to United Way in 2021. Buildings with the highest participation by level were Orchard Ave. (elementary)., Redlands (middle), Grand River Academy (high), and BTK (office).
Winners of the day off drawing are Elaine Buda (Hawthorne), Julie Christianson (CHS), Tim Graus (FMHS), Tyler Jones (Rocky Mt.), Shannon Koppenhafer (New Emerson), Emma-Leigh Larsen (Monument Ridge), Shanna Miller (FMHS), Jenifer Myers (Rim Rock), Kathryn Myers (Chipeta), Amie Schraeder (Wingate), Jackie Shoptaugh (Shelledy), Bridget Story (Admin), Mary Thomas (Rim Rock) and Ray Walls (Tech). 

School Finance Presentation

Tracie Rainey, executive director of the Colorado School Finance Project, discussed current events in school finance. The district has lost $228 million since 2009 to the Budget Stabilization Factor (formerly the Negative Factor), which takes part of what a district earns through the state funding formula and uses it for other parts of the state budget. Ms. Rainey said the legislature could increase the local share of school district funding for de-Bruced districts (including D51), with no change for Mesa County taxpayers in the current year. This will be further discussed this year.

Future Meetings

Jan. 19 - Board Business Meeting. 6 p.m. Facebook Live.
Feb. 2 - Board Work Session. 6 p.m. Location TBD.
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