Elementary/Middle School Program
601 N. Mildred Rd., Cortez, CO 81321 | 970-564-9377| kivacharter.org
December 10, 2018
Dear RE-1 School Board,
We would like to thank you for the ongoing support and transparency you have offered Children’s Kiva Montessori Elementary/Middle School (E/M S), especially over the last three months. It has been a difficult time for our school due to a wide variety of factors. We want to take this opportunity to provide you with the information and efforts that have been made during this time.
The E/M S Board received letters of concern on September 28th, October 9th, October 15th, October 22nd, and November 9th. The school has taken the following actions to address each of the Districts concerns:
- The final Audit was submitted to the District on November 9th.
- Transition to Visions will be completed by July 1st 2019
- E/M S continues to provide actuals to the District on the 15th of each month
- E/M S has provided the District with a 3 year balanced budget for 99.5 FTE (87 fulltime 1st-8th grade students and 22 kindergarteners; 19 at .58 FTE and 3 at .5 FTE - based on our October count in 2018) as well as a plan to comply with TABOR within twelve months.
- As you are aware we also have a payback plan for the over funding accepted in July, August, and September which will once again provide us a better financial picture for the future. Not having this deficit in the next and future fiscal years will greatly enhance our financial picture.
- An anonymous donation of $25,000 has been pledged and will be reflected in our December statements.
- E/M S provided a recruitment plan to RE-1 and has met the obligations as outlined.
- E/MS has had a transition within the Board which we believe will provide stronger leadership and more stability all Board Leadership positions are filled.
- Board retreat is scheduled for January 2019 and will include governance training and strategic plan development.
- Two Board members recently attended a half day board development workshop to inform the Board on processes and internal controls to improve the quality of our Board’s functioning.
- The finance committee currently has two Board members (in addition to community members), both of whom, have financial experience and one that has extensive financial experience and continues to work hand in hand with our Finance Director and helped develop the three year budgets we have submitted.
- E/M S Board has on their agenda potential action to hire Jon Orris as a long-term Interim Head of School effective December 11th. Jon comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience in charter school administration and will hit the ground running to support any outcome.
- E/M S Board understands the need for revisions and enhancements to our current grievance procedure. Our Board Development Committee has been tasked with reviewing our grievance procedure and updating it by February 2019
- E/M S Board hired a Temporary Interim Head of School, Alexia McGrath-Hudson on October 22nd and she became the point person for all student health and safety related issues.
- E/M S is currently in compliance with all health related concerns.
- There has been ongoing communication and collaboration with Sue Ciccia and Alexia to ensure compliance and maintain compliance with state and federal regulations.
Special Education and Academic Performance:
- E/M S hired Linda Whitehead as a contractor, as was approved by Carol Mehesy, to meet the needs of all students who have been identified as needing specialized services.
- RayLynne Snyder-Braun is employed full-time as a Reading Interventionist.
- We are in search of a Math Interventionist.
- The building located at 601 N Mildred is in need of an asbestos cleaning, not abatement at this time. No abatement has occurred as none was required in Phase 1 of the construction process. All identified and existing asbestos or lead was encapsulated or buried under the guidance of a licensed asbestos/lead abatement contractor. Phase 1 has been completely cleaned, cleared, and tested free of asbestos. Licensed and permitted abatement contractors are expected onsite by Tuesday December 11th to complete cleaning, clearing, and testing the remaining portions of the building. A Certified Asbestos Plan Manager and the CDPHE will be overseeing this process and all continuing aspects in relation to contamination. Completion is expected by February 5, 2019. During this time the construction crews will concentrate on completing the final items required for full Phase 1 Certificate of Occupancy, as agreed upon with the City of Cortez Building Department. The Phase 1 area includes 5 full sized classrooms, 1 smaller classroom, a computer lab, 6 bathrooms, a mop sink, reception area, kitchen, and multiple outdoor space opportunities. This space is sufficient for our current student count and near future growth. Diligent work is underway to obtain funding sources such as Grants and Foundation donations to complete the remodel and abatement beyond Phase 1. No abatement is scheduled at this time.
- E/MS has a current MOU with Crow Canyon. Discussions are in process to determine if our school could continue operation in the Crow Canyon Facilities until Spring Break, which would offer a smoother transition with the natural break, or possibly through the end of the school year. As we consider these options, the Board, with advisement from the IHOS, instructional staff, and technical support from the district, is considering the timing of a potential move in March in creating optimal conditions for the state testing that will also occur during this time, in order to maximize our students’ performance.
- E/MS is making every effort to explore additional contingency plans should the above mentioned timelines not occur as currently anticipated and we will continue to keep you informed about these plans.
- Due to the unforeseen circumstances, E/M S negotiated rent free occupancy at Crow Canyon.
- Negotiations are also in process between the Building Corporation, the banks who provided funding for the building, and the USDA to reduce mortgage payments in order to support the school. These include a longer amortization period (moving from 20 years to 25 or 30), and back-loading of the mortgage payments which would reduce the payback required for the next 2-5 years in order to provide time for finances and student counts to stabilize. All savings would be passed on to the school.
- E/M S currently has a waiver for transportation. We understand that this is an ongoing need while our school is housed at Crow Canyon. We have worked with our community volunteers and parents to carpool students at this time. We continue to investigate additional options for students that require transportation.
- A new School Calendar has been approved by the E/M S Board and submitted to the school district. Please see attached our new school calendar for the 2018-2019 school year.
Given the extent of the many extenuating circumstances that we have faced, we ask you to consider the many efforts we have made to remedy each and every one as they have occurred. Our students and staff have modeled incredible resilience and perseverance. As the urgency of the matter has become apparent, the response from the large majority of our community of families has been a resounding “We need and deserve more time. The Community needs this school.”
Continue to hold us accountable but let us model for the Montezuma-Cortez community that we can be creative and truly collaborative in developing a plan that addresses the RE-1 School Board’s concerns and also acknowledges and validates the need for choice and desire for alternative educational settings that gave rise to the Kiva E/M S program in the first place.
We understand your concerns about our school and our current obstacles. We have provided this letter in hopes that your Board will take all of these efforts into consideration as you discuss our school and it’s future. We hope that we can continue to work collaboratively toward a meaningful resolution that meets the needs of all of our students.
Children’s Kiva Montessori Elementary/Middle School Board of Directors