Tag Archives: Saguache Schools

Latest News – August 28

It’s Back-To-School Time in Saguache Today

You can feel the excitement that new notebooks and notepads bring to students in Saguache Today as the 2017/18 school year is officially underway.


Students in Saguache Today are Back-to-School. Make it a Great New Year! Photo: Mountain Valley Schools.

 “We have an adventurous school year ahead,” stated Mountain Valley RE-1 Preschool Director Lacy Reed via social media. While today marks that program’s first day, parents should note that the Pre-School’s enrollment has also been reported as FULL, with a growing waiting list. Questions may be directed to 719-655-2578 or email Reed directly at reedl@valley.k12.co.us.

Readers can access the FULL calendar for the 2017/18 academic year for Mountain Valley Schools HERE.

Also, parents and students should note that the official “Back-To-School” night is scheduled for this Thursday, August 31. This is a great opportunity to visit with teachers and school staff and see you child’s classroom, if you haven’t already!

Back to School Night

In other schools news, the district continues to make its case for the passage of a bond issue which will be taken to voters in the November election. Here is the latest information from Mountain Valley School Superintendent Travis Garoutte with a reminder of the next public meeting to be held tomorrow, August 29 at the school at 6 p.m. (details below).

Schools Make Case for Bond Issue

By Travis Garoutte, Mountain Valley RE-1 School District Superintendent

As you have probably heard, Mountain Valley School District has received a twenty-seven million dollar BEST Grant to build a new school and athletic facilities for our students and community. This grant requires a twelve percent match, which will come from a  $3.7 million bond to be voted on in November 2017.

I am excited about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve our school while providing a modern and updated educational facility for our community. Our school is the heart of the community, with numerous events taking place at MVS throughout the year.  

Art Festival 2017_Saguache Today_3

Representatives from Mountain Valley School District were available to distribute information and answer quesitons regarding the upcoming Bond Issue at the recent Saguache Art Festival on August 19. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell.

In a 2009 site assessment, it was estimated that Mountain Valley School had almost $17 million in needs with a bonding capacity of only $3.7 million. Since that time, our needs have only increased. We currently have countless plumbing, electrical, roofing, HVAC, and security issues, with several components of our facilities well beyond their useful life. Without help from the BEST Grant, we will never be able to improve our situation or sustain our school district facilities in the future.

We will be having a BEST Grant and 2017 bond election community informational meeting at Mountain Valley School on Tuesday, August 29, 2017, at 6:00 PM. During this meeting, we will celebrate our success in obtaining the BEST Grant, review the proposed plan for the new school, discuss the 2017 bond election, answer questions, and seek community input.

EVERYONE is invited! We welcome and need everyone’s input! I hope to see you at our BEST Grant and 2017 bond election community meeting!

High School Students Access to Dual Enrollment

Educators across the state continue to provide additional opportunities to high-achieving students. In the following column, readers can hear from the State Board of Education’s representative for Saguache Today, Joyce Rankin who discusses some changes for high school students access to dual enrollment programs. Rankin is on the State Board of Education representing the Third Congressional District, which includes Saguache County. She writes the monthly column, “Across the Street” to share with constituents in her district.  

Education? “It’s complicated.”

By Joyce Rankin, State Board of Education

Joyce Formal sport coat

State Board Representative Joyce Rankin

Have you ever asked a question and been given the answer, “It’s complicated”? Me, too. It’s a frequently used phrase around the Colorado Department of Education.

Recently I was having a conversation with constituents when the following question was raised: “What are we doing for our high achieving students?” Well, it’s complicated.

In May 2009, the Colorado State Legislature passed House Bill 09-1319 and Senate Bill 09-285, the Concurrent Enrollment Programs Act. The concurrent enrollment program is defined as, “the simultaneous enrollment of a qualified student in a local education provider (high school) and in one or more postsecondary courses, including academic or career and technical education courses, which may include course work related to apprenticeship programs or internship programs, at an institution of higher education.”

Basically dual and concurrent enrollment are terms used interchangeably to describe college courses students take while in high school.  They can be taught by qualified high school instructors or through an agreement with a local community or four year college.

The 2009 bill also creates another program for students completing 12 post-secondary credit hours prior to the completion of 12th grade. The Accelerating Students through Concurrent ENrollmenT (ASCENT) program provides qualifying high school students a 5th year of tuition free college. At the end of the fifth year at their local education provider (high school), the student will receive their high school diploma.

AP or Advanced Placement is another way for students to take content rich courses over a wide range of information. Currently 34 courses are offered by highly qualified teachers in some Colorado high schools. Every May AP Examinations are administered to evaluate the skills learned in these courses. The tests are not mandatory however students taking the tests and performing well can earn college credit and advanced placement at many colleges.

Early college is also a chance for students to gain college credit. In this case enrolled high school students have the opportunity to graduate with either an associate’s degree or 60 credit hours toward the completion of a postsecondary credential.

These are a few of the opportunities currently being offered in Colorado high schools. Of course there are also blended learning classes that allow for coursework helpful in attaining certifications and college credit.           

At our August board meeting the education department will give us an overview of Postsecondary Workforce Readiness, and yes, it’s complicated.

Saguache School Calendar.jpg



Latest News – July 17

School Hosts Community Meeting Wednesday

Mountain Valley School (MVS) will hold a BEST Grant and 2017 bond election information meeting at the Saguache County Road and Bridge Building, 305 W. 3rd at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 19.

Mountain Valley School Sign

Mountain Valley School District will take the bond issue to voters in order to secure the matching funds for the BEST grant. 

In May, the district announced that they were awarded a $27 million grant from the State of Colorado’s BEST program. The next step will play out at the polls as voters decide if they are willing to pass a $3.7 million bond this November to build a new school and athletic facilities for students and the community.

The receipt of the BEST grant is contingent on the matching contribution through the bond issue. In other words, it will ultimately be up to voters whether the project moves forward.

According to documents on the Colorado Department of Education’s website, MVS proposed a complete replacement of Pre-Kindergarten through 12th Grade educational facilities.


The purpose of Wednesday’s meeting will be

  • Celebrate the success in obtaining the BEST grant.
  • Review the proposed plan for the school.
  • Discuss the 2017 bond election.
  • Questions and answers.
  • Everyone is invited to learn and provide their input.

What is a BEST Grant:

Established in 2008 with the signing of C.R.S.22-43.7, BEST provides an annual amount of funding through the Colorado Department of Education in the form of competitive grants to school districts, charter schools, institute charter schools, boards of cooperative educational services, and the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind. BEST funds can be used for the construction of new schools as well as general construction and renovation of existing school facility systems and structures.

Latest News – July 12

Testing, Testing: Academics to Social Skills

“Across the Street” by Joyce Rankin

Joyce Formal sport coat

State School Board Representative Joyce Rankin

President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) into law in 2001. Since that time Colorado has tested students and used the tests and other assessments to evaluate the effectiveness of the K-12 school system. In 2008-2009 the Colorado legislature added new tests in order to more effectively align standards with accountability. Concerns of parents, teachers and students caused legislators and educators to reexamine the amount of time devoted to testing. Last year the state board determined that the amount of testing should not only be reduced but results should be made more quickly available to help teachers and students.

But wait, more seems to be headed our way.  Up until now, the skills that have been emphasized on these tests are termed “academic” skills.  Enter the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) signed into law in 2015 by President Obama. This law adds flexibility.  Under ESSA at least one additional “nonacademic” indicator is allowed, including, but not limited to, student engagement, educator engagement, school climate, and safety. They have also been determined to include, self-control, grit, growth mindset, and others.  Indicators must be valid, comparable, reliable, and statewide. These are advertised as skills necessary to thrive in the 21st century workplace and referred to by some as “soft skills”.

Many educational organizations across the country enthusiastically support the new federal legislation and opportunities for social and emotional learning (SEL). With federal grant funding available, school districts are beginning to use SEL programs in the classroom.

Students get their lunch from a salad bar at the school cafeteria as some of more than 8,000lbs of locally grown broccoli from a partnership between Farm to School and Healthy School Meals is served at Marston Middle School in San Diego

Many support the legislation for social and emotional learning in schools. REUTERS/Mike Blake

A concern of these programs are the many and variable definitions of social and emotional learning. This is one definition: “SEL is the process of acquiring and effectively applying the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to recognize and manage emotions; developing caring and concern for others; making responsible decisions; establishing positive relationships; and handling challenging situations capably.”

Even if uniform definitions and understanding can be articulated, the next challenge is how these skills can be taught and then measured in the classroom. Are these “soft” skills just as critical to success as other “hard” skills like reading and math? Are current educators confident that they can acquire the necessary talents required to effectively teach these skills for the success of each student? How will we measure such qualities for purposes of educational policy and practice?

There are big challenges to prepare our students for a successful future.  A considerable amount of money has been spent over time to improve academic outcomes, however we’re still where we were when NCLB was established.  Is it reasonable to assume that the new ESSA will improve outcomes for our students or are we, yet again, adding more encumbrances to an already overburdened system?

Joyce Rankin is on the State Board of Education representing the Third Congressional District, which includes Saguache County. She writes the monthly column, “Across the Street” to share with constituents in her district.  The Department of Education, where the State Board of Education meets, is located across the street from the Capitol. She is also a Legislative Assistant for Representative Bob Rankin.

Latest News – May 10

Celebrate Student Art at The Range

Tomorrow, Thursday May 11 the students from Mountain Valley Schools will present their Spring Concert and Art Show. This is your chance to see all of the great, creative projects students have been working on this year.


The arts are alive at Mountain Valley Schools in Saguache. Pictured here are students who participated earlier this year in the sculpture project for the Telluride Fire Festival. 

The community is welcome and encouraged to attend. The program will begin at 6 p.m. at The Range, Saguache’s Art Gallery located downtown at 307 4th Street.

The evening will begin with some wonderful music played by the pre K – 5th grade students. Then attendees are encouraged to tour the K – 12th grade art show which will be on display at The Range. Refreshments will be provided, so come and join the celebration of the arts in the Saguache schools!

In January, the 3rd Annual Telluride Fire Festival premiered the fire-spewing, three-headed Youth Pyros sculpture created with the help of several Saguache students. You can READ FULL STORY and see the final fire-breathing sculpture HERE. This sculpture was created in November by regional youth in a special workshop produced by Coldharbour Institute and Telluride Fire Festival through grants from Coldharbour Institute, Saguache County and scholarships from Telluride Fire Festival.

The Range

The Range Art Gallery.

The Range Art Gallery which will be hosting the local student art show on May 11, is described as an artist space for exhibitions, events, and visiting artists. It was established in 2015 by  Alex DeCarli & Adrienne Garbini. The Range is located at 307 4th Street and visitors are encouraged to ring the bell or by set an appointment.

Latest News – March 21

From The State Board of Education: School Choice

The topic of school choice continues to gain momentum at both the state and federal levels. To that end, Saguache Today offers the following column on the matter from Joyce Rankin, your Colorado State Board of Education Representative for th eMountain Valley School District. She may be reached at joycerankin@yahoo.com.

School Choice: Your Options May Be Changing

By Joyce Rankin, State Board of Education, Third Congressional District.

School choice is a term for K-12 public education options describing a wide array of programs offering students and their families’ alternatives to those publicly provided schools assigned based on the location of their family residence. Two popular school choices are Charter Schools and Open Enrollment.

Charter Schools are public schools that are founded by parents, teachers or community members. They provide alternative educational programs that differ from traditional public schools. Colorado charter schools operate by way of a contract (charter) that has been authorized either by a school district or the Colorado Charter School Institute (CSI).

Colorado State Board of Education Representative Joyce Rankin (photo)

An example of school choice in Western Colorado offers the Durango School District in southwest Colorado both types of charter schools and multiple other offerings.  Durango has two Charter School Institute schools and four private schools. This year the district opened their first online school with Colorado Connections Academy @ Durango, an online platform available to students across the state.  They also have a new elementary school as well as a new public charter school sponsored by the district.

Superintendent, Dan Snowberger, is a supporter of school choice. Last November, Durango passed a $1.7 million mill levy override that would be shared equally with charter school students.  Schools under the Charter School Institute typically do not get a piece of mill levy override money.  Said Snowberger, “The district’s actions said loud and clear that it embraces and values each and every one of the students in their public schools.”

In Lake County School District (LCSD), as reported in Leadville Today the online news source serving Lake County, parents are taking advantage of open enrollment to select a school that they believe is the best choice for their children. Open enrollment allows students to enroll in schools outside the district for which they are zoned.

The State Board of Education, Third Congressional District. includes the Mountain Valley School District in Saguache County.

LCSD includes three schools: West Park Elementary, Lake County Intermediate and the recently upgraded Lake County High School. Lake County also has a charter school, Greater Heights Academy with 52 students. Even with a physical school upgrade many parents choose to travel in order to exercise their educational choices. With a total of 911 students enrolled within the district, 61 Leadville students, travel to Buena Vista School District, 32 are enrolled in Summit County School District and 22 students are driven over Vail Pass daily to attend Eagle County School District. 

Parents want to be involved in their child’s education and often take advantage of opportunities other than their local neighborhood school. In Durango it was a fairness issue of distributing tax dollars equally to include Charter Schools and expanding online choices. In Leadville it united parents with carpooling and community discussions about what neighboring schools had to offer. In both cases parents are taking an active role in selecting the school that best fits their child. Under the new administration there may be more school choice programs on the horizon…..stay tuned.

Joyce Rankin is on the State Board of Education representing the Third Congressional District. She writes the monthly column, “Across the Street” to inform constituents in her district.  The Department of Education, where the State Board of Education meets, is located across the street from the Capitol. 


Latest News – March 1

Saguache’s MVS Healthiest Schools in Colorado

Mountain Valley School (MVS)announced it was one of 46 schools named as a 2017 Healthy School Champion last week. This Friday, March 3, MVS will receive $500 Excellence Award for school health efforts at the Summit: Putting the Pieces Together, presented by The Colorado Education Initiative (CEI), Colorado Coalition for Healthy Schools, and the Colorado Healthy Schools Collective Impact, and sponsored by The Colorado Health Foundation, at the Sheraton Denver West Hotel, in Lakewood.

Megan Cleaver, right, stands with seventh-grader Laura Morfitt, in the greenhouse at Mountain Valley School in Saugache, where Megan helped get the greenhouse up and running last year. Photo: CDE

Megan Cleaver, right, stands with seventh-grader Laura Morfitt, in the greenhouse at Mountain Valley School in Saugache, where Megan helped get the greenhouse up and running last year. Photo: CDE

“We are so proud of our school and community for its commitment to making healthy choices and striving to educate others about health and wellness ” said Principal, Kathy Hill.

The annual summit recognizes schools that create and support a healthy school environment and also successfully implement effective school health efforts that support student learning.  Schools are awarded based on their implementation of best practices in school health through an assessment tool called Smart Source, a narrative outlining their work, and letters of support.

“For the winning schools, health and wellness is embedded into the culture and systems.  It’s about having an intentional investment to meet the needs of their students and staff in order to achieve academically,” explained CEI Director of School Health Amy Dyett.

The program has granted more than $300,000 in awards over the past seven years in the range of $300 to $7,500 per school.  Congratulations Mountain Valley Schools!spacer

Mountain Valley Schoosl Video Newsletter

Latest News – January 18

Saguache Students’ Sculpture Highlighted In Telluride

This weekend as the 3rd Annual Telluride Fire Festival ignites up the small mountain resort town with a FREE interactive fire art experience, a sculpture created by local Saguache students will be shining bright in its own right!spacer

From left to right—Andy McKim, clay instructor from Moffat Consolidated School District 2, Ryker Poor, Taleb Nelson, Ida Green, Casey Groom, Alyssa Chavez, Jodeelee Rigdon. Photo: Telluride Fire Festival

From left to right—Andy McKim, clay instructor from Moffat Consolidated School District 2, Ryker Poor, Taleb Nelson, Ida Green, Casey Groom, Alyssa Chavez, Jodeelee Rigdon. Photo: Telluride Fire Festival

spacerIt was back in mid-November when students from Mountain Valley School met with other students from around the state in a cave in Telluride and made art, science and alliances.

The scholarship program was a resounding success and gave students the opportunity to discover how they could operate in any environment while learning new skills. The kids’ fabulously artful sculpture is up and running in Sunset Plaza in Telluride. But if you can’t make this weekend’s Fire Festival, not to worry as readers will be able to see the sculpture a bit closer to home when it will be on display in Gunnison later this year.

Glazed and baked and ready for FIRE! the three-headed student created sculpture will be on display at the Telluride Fire Festival this weekend.

Glazed, baked and ready for FIRE! The three-headed student created sculpture will be on display at the Telluride Fire Festival this weekend.

About The Telluride Fire Festival
The Fire Festival, a 501c3 event, scheduled for Jan. 20-22, 2017 will create a free interactive fire art experience on the pedestrian plazas of Mountain Village and Telluride’s Oak Street Gondola Plaza. Like Burning Man, the Festival will feature multi-storied, fire emitting “art cars” and burn barrels, while other larger-than-life, interactive, and fiery art installations will line these public spaces. Fire dancers will also be on stages offering breath-taking performances. 

For more information about the Telluride Fire Festival, to become a sponsor, volunteer, or to submit a fire installation for consideration, please visit www.telluridefirefestival.org, or email erin@telluridefirefestival.org.