Interim principal named to take the reins at Blanding Elementary School
Kami Anderson will assume the principal duties at Blanding Elementary School this week. Anderson, who has served as the assistant principal at Whitehorse High School for the past year, replaces Terry Gorman.
Gorman accepted a position in Iowa and will leave at the end of the week. Gorman has served as the principal in Blanding for the past year.
Blanding Elementary, with 564 students, is by far the largest school in the San Juan School District. The school serves a large and diverse student population.
Anderson taught at an inner-city school in Atlanta, GA before coming to Montezuma Creek. She will serve as the interim principal in Blanding for the remainder of the school year.
While some schools have experienced significant change, the overall enrollment in San Juan School District remains steady, according to a report given by Superintendant Doug Wright at the October 19 meeting of the school board.
From data collected in October 2010 and 2011, the district saw an increase of 13 students in the current year.
While most schools saw an enrollment change of only a few students, the new elementary school at Monument Valley is up by 38 students and Blanding Elementary School is up by 14 students. Monument Valley High and Montezuma Creek Elementary schools are each down by 23 students.
Looking at staffing numbers, Wright observed that the secondary schools are generally overstaffed while elementary schools are understaffed. The largest elementary class size in the district is the third grade at Monticello Elementary, with 30 students in one class and 27 in the other.
A number of the fourth through sixth grade classes at Blanding and Monticello elementary schools have 27 to 28 students, while most classes in the district have 25 students or less. Wright said the district is trying the best it can to keep the student-teacher ratio as low as possible.
District Business Manager Clayton Holt reports that construction projects at both Monticello schools are underway, with analysis underway at this time.
Regarding the replacement project at Monticello Elementary, Holt reports the architects will begin meeting with stakeholders, including parents and teachers, as they design the new school.
Holt said that the project should be designed by next year, followed by selection of a construction manager and bidding of subcontractor work in January, 2013. The district plans to condense the construction into one school year.
The school board has set a $1.8 million budget for a remodeling project next summer at Monticello High. Board Member Bill Boyle fears that the cost of all the projects on the wish list will far exceed the budget. Boyle asked when the district will know the estimated cost of each portion of the project.
Holt reported that engineers are in the building so prices can be estimated soon. Holt mentioned that with four previous remodels of the building, many issues need to be dealt with. He estimates that the district will have a good idea of the scope of the project and be ready for board discussion in December.
Superintendant Wright said that in order to facilitate the construction at Monticello Elementary, the district may change the calendar for the schools in Monticello and La Sal. They may eliminate holidays after January, 2013 for the remainder of the school year. This would allow school to be out two weeks sooner to begin construction.
Wright is unsure of community reaction to the idea, but hoped there would be support, as it is only a one-time change and “what they get in the end is a good payoff.”
Scheduling options will be discussed by the board in coming months. Wright added that they may consider other changes, if needed, during the construction period.
Superintendant Wright presented a draft of a board policy to aid the district Professional Learning Community (PLC) plan. The district has implemented PLCs, which are used to coordinate teaching efforts, to provide interventions for struggling students, and to help raise the achievement levels at the schools.
The Board heard a presentation from Sara Fields, of Uranium Watch in Moab. Fields said she wanted to bring attention to radon, a hazardous air pollutant that may exist at La Sal School.
Fields attributed this due to mines in the vicinity and said that there is no EPA requirement for monitoring radon levels at the school. Fields suggested that the district go to the state and request monitoring at the school.
District officials state that they have tested the school for radon and have watched the issue closely.
The most recent radon test results, from June, 2011, show radon levels at the school to be higher than the national average for indoor radon, but well below the EPA recommended action guideline.
There were questions raised about concussions in school sports and new laws put in place to protect student athletes.
Health care providers in many rural areas are not yet licensed to clear athletes after they suffer a concussion. The new law requires that providers complete a continuing education course every three years on the evaluation and management of concussions. The district will coordinate efforts and encourage the training to take place.