Board of Education

Superintendent Dr. Bonnie Aaron, center, spoke about new efforts to get grant funding for Trinidad School District No. 1 at the Wednesday, Nov. 28 Board of Education meeting. Chief Financial Officer Mitch Nutterfield, left, and Board President Paul Montera, right, listen during the meeting.

After two ballot issues put forth by Trinidad School District No. 1 failed to gain passage buy narrow margins in the Tuesday, Nov. 6 general election, the Board of Education voted unanimously not to ask for a recount of the election results at its Wednesday, Nov. 28 regular meeting.

Voters defeated ballot initiative 4A, for a Mill Levy Override, gaining 2,048 yes votes or 49.89 percent, as opposed to 2,057 no votes, or 50.11 percent of the total of 4,105 votes cast. Ballot Initiative 4B, for a General Obligation Bond, also went down to defeat, garnering 2,014 yes votes, or 49.23 percent, as opposed to 2,077 no votes, or 50.77 percent of the total of 4,091 votes cast. A recount effort would have cost the district a minimum of $5,000, money it felt could be better spent elsewhere.

The defeat of Ballot Initiative 4B meant that the district would be unable to come up with the $4.75 million matching funds it needed for a BEST (Building Excellent Schools Together) grant of $7.65 million for renovations of the aging Trinidad Middle School at a total cost of $13.186 million. The district had to turn over the potential grant because it fell 63 votes short of passing Ballot Initiative 4B, and the question became what to do next.

Superintendent Dr. Bonnie Aaron said a Colorado Department of Education (CDE) employee had volunteered to call in to Trinidad for a Board of Education retreat and work session, tentatively scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 13, to consider what to do next in efforts to raise funds. More information about the retreat and work session will be made available in the near future.

“Today, members of our BEST grant team were on a conference call with the engineers and the architect who helped us with the BEST grant application, and asking about their willingness and ability to go another round with us,” Dr. Aaron said. “That depends on what the Board decides to do at the retreat and work session. The architect and engineers were willing as long as it wasn’t ‘start from scratch’ project. If we could take what we already have in our master plan and repurpose it, they are on board to help us.

“We have a deadline of Feb. 27, 2019 to put that BEST grant application in again. We’ll need to go that route if that’s what the Board decides to do We’ll have some help on our side if we do that. That’s what that call was about today.”

In another discussion at the meeting, the Board members heard a report from Teacher Louis Rino about the high school’s Vocational Programs, which he said are not flourishing the way they once did. Rino noted that not enough students were signing up for vocational classes, making it harder for the school to justify committing its limited resources to them.

“What I see is this. We’ve become so focused on scholastic achievement that we route kids often into classes that they aren’t capable of handling,” Rino said. “Sometimes I deal with sophomores who are supposed to be, logically, taking Algebra II classes, but they have problems with computation. They’ve been routed into theses classes because we’re so concerned about how we’re going to do on state testing. It becomes this thing where they’re even more disenchanted with what they’re doing.”

Rino also said there were a number of retired tradesmen in Trinidad who would volunteer their time to teach vocational classes, giving the students useful skills at a minimum financial cost to the district. Board member Deb Hartman said that having strong vocational programs could be very attractive to students who didn’t want to go to college. “We have to start teaching the students in the way the students can learn best, not teaching them how the teachers teach.”

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