CREEDE— On March 12, Superintendent Lis Richard delivered her resignation letter to the Creede School District Board of Education, effective June 30, 2019. School board president Damon Gibbons read a letter at the start of the board’s meeting on Wednesday, March 27, directed to parents, students and the school community.
As Gibbons explained after the meeting, the long list of accomplishments listed in the letter since Richard took the position in 2017 was not complete. Changes during her tenure include increased funding through multiple grant programs, community contributions and increased enrollment. Richard introduced a food pantry program, formalized the school safety program and enhanced the district’s relationship with the Creede Repertory Theatre. The school’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program curriculum includes advanced Computer Aided Design software training, automotive services and other skill development with glass-engraving and other sophisticated equipment.
Richard also taught journalism, coached basketball and developed the Miners Minutes, a monthly publication for the district.
“The board will work diligently in a timely manner, carefully considering all options available as we begin the difficult task of replacing Mrs. Richard,” the letter read. Richard had one year remaining on her three-year contract, and the search for a replacement will initiate a new era for the district.
More than 50 audience members attended the meeting, curious to hear about the resignation and discuss transportation issues and other topics. The official public comment signup sheet included a single name at the start of the meeting, but when board members broke for executive session, people lined up to sign the sheet to comment on other agenda items. Respecting their time, the board collected phone numbers to notify commenters when the executive session ended so they could return to the room.
Gibbons reiterated the school’s foundation for restorative practices, applying it to all situations from the superintendent’s resignation to daily discipline. What happened? Who was affected? What will we do about it?
Before the break, Collin Vinchattle, dean of restorative services, recounted discipline issues for the board and audience. Of two difficult conflicts during the month, one was resolved through restorative practices and the other was punitive because the student was unwilling to accept accountability. But the students later resolved the issue themselves.
“They’re getting a grasp of the restorative practice,” Vinchattle said.
Vinchattle also contacted families regarding attendance issues this past month, considering heavy snowfall and illness. In addition, the dean praised the school’s basketball players, artists and middle school Knowledge Bowl teams. Guided by Principal John Goss, one of the Knowledge Bowl teams placed third and another was in the lead until the finale. Artist Kendra Yount received a gold medal for a national art show and has a chance to display the work in the Guggenheim Museum in New York City during June.
Board members continued their extensive policy document update, approving the first readings of 12 documents.
The District Accountability Committee (DAC) presentation included metrics and parent survey responses. Vinchattle, Goss and Kaitlin Vanaken reported results, and Richard gave direction for responding to the survey. Principal Goss said the DAC completed three of four tasks from the Unified Improvement Plan. Established in 1995, reports are due on April 15, and Goss said his was close to complete, pending board input.
Vinchattle described new graduation requirements designed to provide math classes during the phase when students take college entrance exams. By completing algebra requirements in eighth grade, some students found themselves taking critical tests without current experience in math classes, perhaps a factor in the district’s recently declining math test scores.
The new requirements will take effect for current seventh graders, the 2024 graduation class. “Now,” Vinchattle said, “we can ask what kind of path do you want to take?” Students can develop mastery in multiple areas with ample time to choose their direction before the critical decision years later.
Vanaken read comments from parent surveys and provided numbers for the board and audience. The results were primarily positive, but accountability comes full circle after the district takes action. Superintendent Richard suggested appointing a board member to qualify and quantify the results and define action items. David Robinson took on the task, which can be addressed during the next school board meeting scheduled for April 23 (beginning at 1 p.m. at the school).