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School District Superintendent

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Colorado lawmakers are unveiling another effort to help survivors of natural disasters like the Marshall and East Troublesome fires rebuild their homes. And the Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 School District will continue without a superintendent, at least for now.
  • Many communities in Colorado are sounding the alarm over the high cost of housing but the state's lawmakers are advancing a bill they say will help. And the Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 School Board named finalists for the district’s superintendent position this week.
  • A new report from the United Nations’ panel on climate change lays out a grim picture of the future that includes more shortages for the already-dry Colorado River basin. A republican bill in Utah banning pornographic materials in schools passed the state’s House on Tuesday. And, the Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 School Board appointed Harry Tom Burrus as the district’s interim superintendent.
  • In the Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 School District, superintendent Risha VanderWey has been placed on administrative leave by the school board, and COVID-19 contact tracing has been suspended.
  • Teachers are pleading with school board members to address urgent and critical staff shortages in the Montezuma-Cortez school system. The pleas came from teachers, principals, and other staff at the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday.
  • Students in Montezuma County are heading back to in-person classes on August 16th. This marks the second year schools have had to contend with the pandemic and ever-evolving public health guidelines. On this week’s health and prevention report, KSJD’s Tay Glass talks to the new Superintendent of Montezuma-Cortez School District, Risha Vanderwey, about what parents and students should do to stay healthy and support their mental health.