The Salida school board approved at its Tuesday meeting a lottery for school district staff for Spartan Heights lots 3 and 4 as the buildings near completion.

School district staff have first choice on the Poncha Spring duplexes, being built in part with student assistance in a program that teaches construction techniques and specialties such as plumbing and electrical to Salida High School students.

The program came about as a solution to affordable teacher housing and the need to incorporate more vocational training into the curriculum.

The measure was approved, with board member Joe Smith recusing himself due to being involved with financing on the project.

The board also approved an increase in funding for the Spartan Heights fourplex, due to be completed by March. The original funding was set at $450,000, but because Poncha Spring code required the units to be larger, the funding was increased to $650,000. Student involvement is expected to decrease the overall cost, however.

In a related action, the board approved a resolution authorizing the superintendent to initiate a contract with Habitat for Humanity for Spartan Heights lots 9 and 10.

Habitat will construct two future homes on the property with the assistance of Salida students, continuing the vocational education aspect of the overall development.

The board also approved an additional counselor position at Salida High School.

In other business the board:

• Honored retirees Kathy Mears, Lynn Stagner, Katherine Guthals and Leslie Garrity, who will transition during the 2019-2020 school year.

• Heard a guest report from Liz Sielatycki and Dibby Olson of Family & Youth Initiatives and Communities That Care about the Speak Now program to help parents talk to their children about substance use.

The 2019 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey revealed a high number of students held the perception of a favorable community attitude toward substance use, which the Speak Now program seeks to change.

Sielatycki also asked the board for permission to attend back-to-school nights in the fall to offer information training for parents to understand vaping health risks.

“A lot of misinformation has spread,” she said.

• Heard a school farm update from Superintendent David Blackburn, with input from Guidestone’s Andrea Early-Coen and Monica Pless. Early-Coen and Pless said the new grow dome will allow the cultivation of lettuce, kale, root and other crops during the winter season for use in the district’s food service.

• Heard an update on the modular buildings that have begun to arrive at Salida Early Childhood Center, Longfellow Elementary School and Salida Middle School.

• Considered a response to the city of Salida Letter, which Blackburn said gave the board some clarity on what was and was not on the table as far as land acquisition and the question of the city taking a larger role in pubic recreation.

• Heard a Colorado Mountain College update from Rachel Pokrandt, vice president and campus dean for Leadville and Chaffee County, who recently occupied an office in the Kesner Building with Amy Dennis, coordinator of academic services and academic advisor for Buena Vista.

Pokrandt said the CMC office building in Buena Vista had been vacated, although classes in both Buena Vista and Salida would still take place.

She said one of their challenges has been to clarify the difference between being part of the CMC service district and being in district, which means inclusion in the tax district with a full program tailored to the needs of the community.

While Buena Vista and Salida are currently in the service district, Salida School District is pursuing annexation into the CMC tax district.

At a work session prior to the regular meeting, a public meeting was held about the 2019-2020 budget, which garnered no public comment.

The role and expectations of counseling in the schools was discussed as well.

Jeff Post came to the work session as a possible candidate for temporary appointment to fill the recently vacated District 5 seat until the November election. Post was the only candidate to attend the meeting.

The board will have a special meeting from 3-5 p.m. June 27 in the Kesner boardroom, 349 E. Ninth St., to appoint a representative for District 5 and to decide what question may go on the November ballot in terms of a bond issue for a new building and/or a mill levy increase for the annexation into the CMC tax district.

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