PreK programs return to school districts, search underway for new BOCES Executive Director

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RBC | Rio Blanco Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) held a meeting Monday, June 17 in Rangely before a packed room at the Early Education Center. Directors present were Kevin Amack, Jason Cox (attending by phone), Samuel Tolley, Bud Ridings, Joyce Key and Dr. Bob Dorsett. 

Key spoke about BOCES running the preschool program and said the program should be returned to the school districts due to BOCES current lack of directorship. Rangely School District Superintendent Matt Scoggins expressed concern and requested a year to smoothly transition the program back into the school districts. Rangely does not have anyone qualified to be a preschool director at this time. Finance director Jessica Fortunato reported that they may have a new hire with early education experience who may qualify to be a preschool director coming to Rangely. Tolley said his biggest concern is that Rio Blanco BOCES is the only BOCES program in the state running its own preschool. Dr. Dorsett asked about Meeker being able to run its own preschool and Meeker School District Superintendent Chris Selle confirmed that Meeker has staff in place to run its own preschool program. Key moved to modify the current memorandum of understanding between BOCES and the school districts for the 2019/2020 school year to return the preschool program back to the respective school districts and Cox seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.  Troy Lange, executive director at the Colorado River BOCES performed an unbiased assessment of the Rio Blanco BOCES organization and presented his findings and recommendations. Lange started by saying that Rio Blanco BOCES is the smallest in the state but he found the staff to be highly motivated and determined that the children be served. Lange met with more than 60 people individually during his assessment. 

“Where do you want to be in five years and what goals do you have to set in order to be strong, vibrant and sustainable for the children in the future?” Lange asked the board.

He recommended hiring an interim director immediately, as trust is currently low and thoughtfulness when speaking about each other—especially in small communities—is of utmost importance. Clear organizational structure and defined relationships between the BOCES director and the school principals was recommended. Formally and informally, Lange said structure and communication needs to improve. He recommended getting ahead of the IEP schedules and considering when it is going to work well for everyone and introducing the BOCES staff in the beginning of the school year. Pairing up with another BOCES was also suggested, as well as evaluating the hiring of special ed teachers and giving that role to the school districts. Having a strategic plan and an annual cycle of looking at the plan would be in BOCES’ best interest. Evaluating the compensation program in order to recruit and retain specialists, clarifying job descriptions and fostering coaching and mentoring for new teachers concluded Lange’s recommendations.

Key moved to go into executive session at 8:15 p.m. and Ridings seconded the motion. Rio Blanco BOCES had several personnel issues to discuss including the resignations of special education teachers Matthew Hunter and Melissa Key. Also on the agenda was an approval of separation agreement and an approval of resignation for Teresa Schott, executive director. 

By ROXIE FROMANG | Special to the Herald Times