Superintendent Elsie Goines announced the retirement of Tom Meardon, Las Animas High School principal, and his wife Sheila Meardon, Las Animas Junior High math teacher, at the March 18 meeting of the Las Animas School Board. Their retirements will be effective at the end of the school year. Goines said some current staff members have expressed interest in the two positions.

In other news, two budget items presented to the board - consisting of Dusty Wallace, Robert Bucholz, William Deal, JoEllen Netherton and Steven Gallegos - were the rate increases for Colorado School Districts Self Insurance Pool, which insures facilities, liability, vehicles, etc.

The school district’s total increase is 66 percent, or $142,634. All members of CSDSIP have seen large rate increases due to the damage caused by hail storms around the state, it was explained. The health insurance premiums will increase about five percent. A budget work session for insurance matters is scheduled for April 22.

The high school staff, the superintendent and the Summit Education Group (online schools) have been working on ways to boost the career and technical education programs.

They plan to develop a foundation for the P-Tech programs that are supported through the Las Animas High School and Aim Global and Immersion (the district on-line school). This process will develop pathways for students to explore as early as the sophomore year.

This work will hopefully redefine graduation requirements through the post-secondary workforce readiness (PWR) capstones, which allows students to earn credits towards graduation.

This type of programming will consist of introductory vocational courses, apprenticeships, internships and on-the-job training for students using local, state and federal partners. The project is part of the district’s goal to develop a “locally defined graduate."

Board members discussed reviewing all school policies in a timely manner. There are 11 sections with the number of policies in each section ranging from one to 85. This is a major undertaking and the board will start with the two sections that have one policy each.

Goines asked the board to repeal Policy H, which deals with the master agreement between the school district and the Las Animas Education Association, because it no longer applies, she said. If the district resumes a master agreement with LEA, new policies will be needed. No action was taken.

In other news:

The district administration is hoping to complete the asbestos abatement project this summer. Efforts are underway to secure funding for this project.

The administration asked the school board to allow them to develop a drug testing program to include new hires and for cases which would have evidence of possible drug use by an employee. No action was taken.

The school calendar for 2019-20 was approved.

It was recommended to approve a one-year contract for the superintendent. Salary and benefits will be determined when the board develops the 2019-20 budget, which will cover salary and benefits for all employees. No action was taken.

Josh Japhet was recommended to fill the junior high science teacher position for the 2019-20 school year. Japhet is student teaching this semester and will graduate from Adams State University in May. The new science teacher and his wife are natives of Las Animas.

The School Board meets at 6 p.m. the third Monday of each month in the junior high commons area. The meetings are open to the public.