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Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 School District

  • Unofficial election results are in for Montezuma County and the Four Corners region. In Cortez, Rhonda Tracy beat Jonathan “J.J.” Lewis in the race for District C on the Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 school board. The other three candidates, Rafe O’Brien, Leland Collins and Mike Lynch, are running unopposed for their seats on the board. In Mancos, candidates Craig Benally, Rachel McWhirter and Timothy Hunter all won seats on the Mancos RE-6 school board. On the Dolores RE-4A school board, Clay Tallmadge, Maegan Crowley, Dustin Goodall and Julia Wilson Anderson have all unofficially been elected. And a bond initiative on the ballot in Dolores that would fund renovations for the town’s secondary school campus looks like it will pass. Out of nearly 1,600 votes, the bond has received a yes from 57% of voters, while 42% voted no.
  • Elections are wrapping up in Montezuma County this week. Leland Collins is a candidate running unopposed for a seat on the Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 school board, and a member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. Collins says he was inspired to run for this seat in part because of his son, a student in the school district who is disabled. Earlier this year, the board voted unanimously to cut ties with San Juan BOCES, a service that provides special education resources and support to school districts in the area. Collins says he’s concerned about how this change will impact students like his son. And a Larimer County woman is the first person to be charged under a Colorado state law that increased punishments for dealing fentanyl if it results in someone’s death.
  • Three out of four open seats on the Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 school board have candidates who are running unopposed in this month’s election. A few of those candidates have said they might refuse to follow statewide education policies if they conflict with their personal values.
  • On Tuesday evening, the Montezuma-Cortez School District held a board meeting where parents and educators voiced concerns on staffing upheaval and a subsequent student protest. Though the latest conflict in the district wasn’t officially on the agenda, about 25 people showed up to the meeting. Jarrett Watkins, a teacher at the high school who spoke at the meeting, says many other educators and staff are afraid to openly discuss the concerns they have around the dismissal of their principal.
  • The Montezuma-Cortez School District will hold its next school board meeting on Tuesday at 6 p.m. It’s expected that the recent conflict around staff changes in the district will be discussed during the public comment portion of the meeting. On April 20, students at the high school held a walk out in response to the dismissal of the school principal by Superintendent Tom Burris. Staff and students allege that Burris has a history of mistreatment of students in the district. According to Jake Myers, who was in 7th grade at the time, in August of 1998, then-Vice Principal Burris instructed him to sit on a large bucket in the multipurpose fields until the end of the school day as punishment for being disruptive in a band class.
  • Last month, Montezuma-Cortez Middle School was named as one of the top schools for music in the United States for its commitment to music education. The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation selected only 78 elementary, middle or high schools in the entire country for their music merit award. The school was one of only two in Colorado that made the list. And Governor Jared Polis and Democratic lawmakers’ ten-year plan to reduce property taxes cleared its first legislative committee Tuesday.
  • On Thursday morning, students walked out of Montezuma-Cortez High School in protest of the recent changes to administrators and staff. The principal of Montezuma-Cortez, Emily Moreland, was placed on administrative leave following a meeting with Superintendent Tom Burris on Tuesday afternoon. Another administrator, Assistant Principal Lauren White, who was also in the meeting, quit. It’s still unclear as to exactly why Moreland was put on administrative leave. But three current teachers at Montezuma-Cortez – who spoke with KSJD under the condition of anonymity in case of reprisals – say that the swift departure of Moreland and White ultimately occurred because of a larger pattern of disrespect and bullying from Burris.
  • On Thursday morning, about 30 students and several parents stood outside the high school and held signs, protesting the swift departures of two administrators. Some teachers at Montezuma-Cortez say that the two left, in part, because of a pattern of disrespect and bullying by Superintendent Tom Burris.
  • The housing markets are slowing in Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. And the principal of Montezuma-Cortez High School is leaving his position after only a few weeks on the job.
  • Three wildland fires were ignited by lightning on Friday in Mesa Verde National Park. And the Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 School District will be cracking down on student attendance and discipline this year.