Andrea Lopez Tzun, a native of Guatemala who arrived in the U.S. when she was 14 years old in 2011, was honored by the board as the district’s classified employee of the year for 2020-21.
In unanimously approving the district’s 2021-22 calendar by a 6-0 vote, the board OK’d the start of school in mid-August, again granted students a week-long break at Thanksgiving, mid-semester break days in October and April and a winter break from Dec. 17 through Jan. 3.
The first day of school is Aug. 12 for students in first through 12th grades and Aug. 17 for kindergarten students. The calendar features balanced semesters with 82 in the first semester and 88 days in the second semester.
Spring break is scheduled for March 14-18.
For staff, new professionals will report for training — known as professionals academy — from Aug. 2-4. They’ll also have a new professionals day on Oct. 11. Returning teachers report on Aug. 5.
Students’ mid-semester breaks will be Oct. 11-12 and April 25.
Other changes centered on creating a staff professional development days on Oct. 12 and March 28 and a holiday for staff on April 25.
The board and district leaders including superintendent Deirdre Pilch previously discussed early release and late start times for students in an “effort to identify ways to provide teachers more time for planning and to focus on the learning gaps that occurred as a result of COVID-19.”
The proposal was not included in the calendar approved Monday. Pilch said the issue of early release and late start was pulled out of the version submitted to the board for additional study. Pilch said the district will give the board more information on any early release and/or late start plan at the board’s work session next month.
“What is the right fit for District 6, early release, late start?” Pilch asked. “Do we need to be the same K-12? Could it look differently at different levels? What’s the best day of the week to do this?”
Board member Ray Talley asked why the board would approve next year’s calendar if information on early release and late starts remained undetermined. Pilch said the biggest reason for the board to approve the calendar would be satisfy district community members who are inquiring about school schedules: when school starts, when it ends and holidays.
Pilch added the early release and late start issue is determined at the school level and does not require board approval. The district calendar year does require board approval, Pilch said.
“So what I’ll be looking to do with you in April is to reach consensus around, if we have a recommendation coming forward for early release, late start, I’d be working with you all to reach consensus rather than bringing it to board table for an action item,” Pilch said.
Talley inquired about tabling the calendar until more information on early release and late start are available.
Board member Pepper Mueller, who’s worked on a calendar committee, explained to Talley that early release or late start information is not reflected on the district calendar. Mueller said that information would be released by the schools. Mueller said families will soon want to know the district calendar for next year so they can begin to plan vacations —especially if the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic improves as vaccines continue to be available to more and more people.
“I’m sure there are already parents chomping at the bit to think about how late in August they can plan their summer vacation,” Mueller said.
Lopez Tzun was educated in District 6 schools and she earned her degree last year in human services with a minor in Spanish from the University of Northern Colorado. She is currently a secondary culturally and linguistically diverse newcomer advocate for the district.
Classified employees are support staff not licensed as educators or administrators such as office managers, secretaries, bus drivers and monitors, nutrition service workers, custodians and grounds crew.
Also on Monday, the board approved a sale of 37.4 acres adjacent to the new Tointon Pre-Engineering K-8 Academy on the Boomerang Golf Course for $1.017 million to WGLI LLC, a Colorado limited liability company. The property is zoned for residential use and abuts the golf course behind the school, Pilch said.
“It’s fair-market value and it does help us to recoup some of the costs we have already incurred in the development of this property,” Pilch said.
District 6 will pay $1.7 million to the city of Greeley as part of a land-swap deal that allowed the school district to obtain land in the area for the Tointon Academy while helping the city finance the construction of new fairways, greens and water features at the golf course.
Work on the Tointon school has begun, and the district has planned a ground breaking ceremony for later this month.
“I can only say I think this is a win-win for our district,” board president Michael Mathews said in supporting the land sale. “We’ve bought land, we’ve traded land, and now we’re selling a piece of that. Financially, it seems like the most thing that we can do with taxpayer money.”