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Friday, December 26, 2014

School Board Reviews Redistricting

School Board Reviews Redistricting, Upcoming Projects
By Sandy Barnes
Berthoud Recorder

Thompson School District directors reviewed requests to solicit bids for a non-potable water interconnection at Turner Middle School and an underground irrigation system at Berthoud High School at the Wednesday, Feb. 4 board meeting. “Berthoud entirely supports non-potable water [usage],” said Director Karen Stockley.

During the discussion of other upcoming projects, Director Lucille Steiner questioned the necessity of moving forward with the selection of an architectural and engineering firm for tennis courts at Berthoud High School. “I want to make sure that it is the next highest priority,” she said. The school board is expected to make a decision on contractors for the three projects at the Feb. 18 meeting.

Steiner also expressed concerns about plans other school board members approved to build Kincaid elementary school. “I do have concerns about moving forward … with projected enrollment down next year,” she said

The school, which will be funded through bond voters approved, is scheduled for completion by fall 2010, according to Thompson School District Superintendent Dr. Ron Cabrera.

School board President Bill McCreary, who also objected to building the new elementary school, said he could not support the plan. “Enrollment in this district has been stagnant for the past several years,” he said. McCreary also pointed out that 500 seats have been added at Coyote Ridge Elementary School along with two others.

“We do believe in neighborhood schools,” said Vice President Marcia Venzke. “That area is shovel-ready,” she added. “We have to have plenty of lead time.”

Director Don Abbot pointed out that there are 57 modular units presently being used for classrooms in the district. “I have multiple reasons for supporting this,” he said. “We need more up-to-date buildings.”

Noting that some of the elementary schools are going to be over-capacity in the near future, Stockley also supported the building the Kincaid school, rather than delaying the project.

Another issue that the school board addressed is the state-required realignment of district boundaries within the Thompson School District to ensure parity of representation. Last October, the board approved changes that would affect District G where Berthoud schools are located. If the board keeps the present configuration, east Loveland schools would be added to District G, which Berthoud resident Stockley represents.

Berthoud is a unique community that wants to stay separate said Stockley. However, she said that she understands the necessity for the redistricting when Loveland schools are growing in enrollment, while the number of students attending Berthoud schools is declining.

“I would like to put this conversation off until we have a little more clarity on boundaries,” said Vice President Marcia Venzke.

“I think we’re postponing the inevitable,” replied Stockley.

School board President Bill McCreary suggested getting legal counsel on the matter.

During the meeting, directors also heard a report on recommendations for improving the special education program in the district.

Special Education Department Director Karen Pielin said that the Professional Concerns Committee decided to adopt best practices standards and recommended taking measures to relieve overcrowding in Group Approach to Individual Needs (GAIN) classrooms. The committee also advised adding an autism coach to assist with teacher support and training and develop a continuum of autism classes to serve growing numbers of students with this disorder.

Thompson School District Superintendent Dr. Ron Cabrera commended the special education committee for their diligent effort in addressing concerns in that area. He also said that there is a possibility the school district may be eligible for additional funding for the program.

School board members also heard a report from Lynn Langton of Student Achievement Services and implementing Spanish language instruction at elementary schools.

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