MONTROSE – It was a bittersweet ending for Kjersten Davis’ long tenure on the Montrose County School Board Tuesday evening. During her multiple terms on the board – her last as board president – she witnessed student achievement rise in Olathe and Montrose schools and delivered health care to low income students through new school-based clinics. And while her term limit is up as a school boardmember, her dedication to local education is far from over.
Before the start of Tuesday's board meeting, newly elected boardmember Gayle Johnson, who narrowly defeated Katie Smits and Jenni Sopsic in District C, asked Davis if she would be willing to provide advice as she moves into her role as a member of the school board.
Davis agreed, and slipped Johnson her cell phone number.
For Johnson, her victory in last week's election came as a surprise. In her campaign, she openly supported Amendment 66, the proposed statewide tax increase to raise money for public schools, stating Colorado schools were severely underfunded. Amendment 66 was roundly defeated, with 65 percent of Colorado voters saying no to the measure. In Montrose County the defeat was larger with 80 percent of residents voting against the tax.
"I know I lost votes over that," Johnson, a former teacher, said at Tuesday’s meeting. "I was generally pleased to have won the election.”
Johnson acknowledged the amendment had serious flaws, but reiterated her belief that more resources must be allocated to classrooms in Montrose to pay teachers a living wage and provide better technology for students.
"I support teachers," Johnson said. "We cannot expect our teachers to work for less money than teachers on the Eastern Slope and keep the fine quality that we have here. These people have families, they have retirements to raise.”
Davis said she was proud to have worked with so many qualified teachers and administrators over the years, . Her passion for education remains strong and said seeing the rise in student achievement has been the most rewarding.
"It's one of those things that even if you continue to improve your never good enough, you can never obtain perfect," Davis said "It's a great board and is in really good hands so it's satisfying to know that its going to do great.”
Boardmember Leann Tobin, who was re-elected and appointed board president Tuesday, thanked Davis for her years of service and presented the outgoing president with an engraved pen.
Incumbent boardmember Mark Bray was appointed secretary, boardmember Tom West was appointed vice president and incumbent Stu Tolen will now serve as the board's treasurer.
39 Students Suffered Concussions Last Year
In a report delivered Tuesday by Assistant Superintendent Kirk Henwood, 39 Montrose High School students suffered some form of concussion in the 2012-2013 school year. The report found 10 concussions were reported in soccer, nine in basketball, 11 in football, four in cheerleading, two in both softball and wrestling, and three from "other" activities last year.
Henwood said it was unclear how much time off was taken by each affected student due to the concussion, but that in each case, strict district concussion protocols were followed, concerning medical attention and recovery.
Henwood reported five Olathe High School students also suffered concussions last year, all spending on average two weeks away from their sports activities was two weeks, and all receiving medical clearance to return.
Curriculums Under Review
Laurie Pascoe, Montrose School District's director of curriculum and instruction, reported to the school board on Tuesday that some district curricular areas have not been updated or reviewed in 10 or more years. Pascoe said during the 2009-2010 school year, due to budget constraints, the adoption cycle for reviewing curriculums was frozen; it was renewed in 2012. Last April, the board approved the K-5 reading initiative using the new curriculum review process; it implemented that initiative this fall.
Pascoe said the 2013-2014 curriculum review and alignment calendar will target comprehensive health and physical education programs, sixth grade math and early childhood development as areas of focus.