Tom Allen named to fill vacant seat on Meeker School Board

Tom Allen

Tom Allen

MEEKER I Tom Allen was selected last week to replace Dan Chinn on the Meeker School District RE-1 (MSD) Board of Education.
After interviewing three candidates, including George Henderson and Carol Rowlee, the MSD board unanimously appointed Allen. Allen said he believes the most important duty of being an MSD board member is to hire the very best teachers and administrators and support them. Allen will be sworn in at the April 1 MSD Board meeting.
When asked why he wanted to be on the MSD Education Board, Allen said he was “not really wild about it, but I think it is so darned important.”
Allen serves as the president of the Meeker Lions Club and Chinn is vice president of the club. Both were considering running last fall, but when Chinn decided to run, Allen withdrew, he said.
Allen taught music and the gifted and talented program within the Meeker district for 26 years after teaching in Paonia for two years.
He earned his degree in instrumental music at Western State College in Gunnison, and while in Meeker he taught instrumental music and choir primarily while also teaching language arts and others classes as needed.
Currently, Allen owns and operates a noxious weed eradication business, contracting with ranches, mines, etc., to get rid of the noxious and invasive weeds in the area.
Allen and his wife, Joy, have five children, including Zack, who lives in Meeker and works at Colowyo Sarah, who owns a flooring business in Laramie, Wyo.; Carrie, a teacher in Grand Junction; Brenda, an administrator at a beauty college in Grand Junction; and Meghan, a State Farm agent in Grand Junction. There are also eight grandchildren.
“MSD has a lot to be proud of, and it is important to maintain the quality of the school district,” he said Monday. “I thought I would benefit the district by adding my educational experience to the mix.”
Allen said during the MSD interview that he views serving on the board as a public service. He said he “has no axes to grind, and, with nine years out of the district, I don’t even know what the axes are.”
“I think that joining the board at this point is going to be a great challenge,” he said. “Regarding the school funding in the state, we’ve got to get involved in that and get that improved without losing staff or programs.”
The fiscal advisory team also reported to the MSD board Tuesday night
Recommendations were similar to the District Accountability Team. The fiscal advisory team is made up of three certified and two classified district staff, two board of education members and two administrators.
The fiscal advisory team recommend MSD: 1) take a hard look at the four-day school week, 2) work on passing the mill levy override, 3) minimize transportation costs, 4) look at other revenues, 5) look at the Eastern Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation District administration of athletics, 6) review special contracts for utilities and 7) identify a minimum budget.
The fiscal advisory team was not tasked to look at any personnel decisions and recommended that the most important thing the school district could do is practice good transparent communication.
The team selected looking at the four-day school week as their first priority since it could reduce transportation costs and some utilities and thought it might be a good fit for the MSD. No decisions were made by the MSD board on Tuesday night regarding the recommendations.
On Thursday night, the Rio Blanco Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) met in Meeker. That included a presentation from Mark Condie from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). One of the topics discussed was student testing.
“I don’t think we are using the information from testing enough,” said Condie. He went on to say standards in new testing are going to make the tests tougher.
Some board members, including Jen Hill of Rangely School District RE-4 (RSD) wondered if there is too much assessment testing.
There was also some discussion about the accuracy of standardized testing when students do not have anything at stake in terms of grades or future opportunities. RSD board member Sam Tolley described it as “not having any skin in the game.”
When asked by board members about how the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) is matching up with the ACT, Condie said, “Kids that are scoring well on mastering standards (TCAP) are also scoring well on other tests like the ACT; also kids who don’t do well on the TCAP don’t do well on the ACT.”
Teacher and staff resignations at Tuesday’s MSD board meeting included Cortney Aldridge (consumer and family science), Blake Mobley (information technology), Bob Eggebraten (band director), and Claudia Shults (administration assistant secretary). Shults serves as the receptionist at the administration building, and Superintendent Mark Meyer informed the board that he would not fill the receptionist position.
Celebrations at Tuesday’s MSD board meeting included the Meeker High School English program, specifically the selection of Jake Phalen for the 11th grade Washington, D.C., leadership trip. The White River Electric Association (WREA) scholarship is an all-expense-paid trip to a leadership conference in the capital, and Phalen’s selection was based on his essay on electric cooperatives.
Taylor Frantz and Madison Shults were selected to attend the 2014 Cooperative Youth Leadership Tour in Steamboat Springs, also sponsored by WREA.
The Meeker High School Band sent 34 kids to the Solo and Ensemble at Rifle High School on Feb. 21. This is a competition in which students prepare a solo or a group of students prepare an ensemble to perform.
The Meeker High School wrestling team was given the best sportsmen award for this season. Coach J.C. Watt said the award was given after a unanimous vote by western slope referees, who remarked on the team’s humbleness and respect for the sport.
Coach Watt said winning the award w­as, “exemplary, and what Meeker is all about.” In addition to thanking the community, parents, teachers, bus drivers, administrators and others, Watt extended a special thanks to the rest of the wrestling team that helped support the 10 who went to state.
“It was truly a team effort,” Watt said.
Athletic director Brett Steinacher related an amusing public relations coup accomplished by Meeker wrestlers at the state meet. After wrestlers talked to representatives at the Western Dairy Association booth, the dairy association offered to provide free chocolate milk to the entire Meeker wrestling team for every day of next year’s season.

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