Taking a thorough look
Bond committee tours aging high school
Approximately 20 community members gathered Thursday morning at Montezuma-Cortez High School to get a better look at the aging facility.
The Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1 hopes to replace the old school with a modern state-of-the-art high school.
For that to happen, voters would have to approve a $21 million bond in the November election to match the $21 million Building Excellent Schools Today grant the district was awarded in late June.
New Re-1 Superintendent Alex Carter said the walk-through at the school was intended to give those on the bond committee a look at the conditions of the school before reporting back to their subs group to share their observations.
Carter sent out letters to people asking if they would be interested in serving on the bond committee, and the group grew from there.
“We are trying to get the word out on how important this school would be,” he said.
Thursday’s tour was much different than the site visit a BEST representative made to the school in May to look at student safety issues, which included the asbestos in the school’s auditorium.
New M-CHS Principal Jason Wayman led members of the group to various locations in the school on Thursday, so they could see for themselves why a new high school was so crucial for the district.
Correlating with what the BEST representative mentioned in her May visit, Wayman said security at the school remains an issue because it is almost impossible to monitor all of the doors at the school.
The recently installed office window by the main entrance of the school was designed partly to see which people who were coming into the school. Wayman said he believes the set-up is inadequate.
The principal also explained that there were two classrooms in the first wing of the school that could not be used for instruction because they are not in compliance with The Americans with Disabilities Act. The rooms are now used for storage space.
Responding to a question about furnishings for the proposed new school, Carter said the interior furniture would be new, since it would be covered under the grant.
The current furnishings that are still in good condition could be transferred to the middle school.
In another wing, Wayman showed the committee members a small classroom that he said was never intended to be used as a classroom.
“There is no way you can do collaborative learning in a place like this,” Carter said.
He said the small classroom would result in only one method of teaching with the teacher standing in front of the classroom for lectures and discussions.
“You have to have some options,” he said.
Parent Becky Brunk, who is co-chair of the bond committee with former Cortez Mayor Orly Lucero, wondered about the safety of the school.
Carter also explained to the group that all of the repairs to the school would cost 78 percent of the price of building a new school, and added the $32 million in repairs would result in the school still not serving the needs of the district.
Emily Walck, who will be a M-CHS senior, said students often bring blankets to school to bundle up because of the cold temperatures inside classrooms during the winter months.
“You cannot focus on your schoolwork when it is so cold or hot,” she said.
When looking at the M-CHS gymnasium, Brunk said there is inadequate seating available for events, and Carter added the gymnasium floor can’t be resurfaced again.
Wayman also pointed out that the food services area with no food court is lacking and would never be able to serve the entire student body lunch if the campus were closed.
Brunk remembered being very cold while attending an event in the auditorium, and added the students putting on the performance were shivering. Walck also said the choir room gets very hot at times.
The tour ended in a small agriculture classroom.
“The kids are stuffed everywhere, and we are trying to do everything we can to provide a good education,” Wayman said.
Brunk also wanted to know about the conditions of the restrooms, and Wayman said a lot of them are small and dingy.
“There are kids who will never say anything (about their schools) because it is embarrassing,” Brunk said. “It impacts students’ learning.”