SAGUACHE — The regular Mountain Valley School District Board of Education meeting on Feb. 16 highlighted sports programs and Superintendent Travis Garoutte’s new snow-day procedure.
Kicking off the meeting, Athletic Director Larry Hunt said the first middle school basketball game was originally scheduled for Feb. 16, but it would have been their first time on the court. Instead, it was the first official day of practice, and they rescheduled to play two games this week. They have enough players for two teams. The high school teams are in season already.
Next, Hunt presented a breakdown of athletes from MVS and Moffat schools. About 20 years ago, the schools combined forces to field a football team. Programs have evolved since then to include other sports. Hunt’s presentation showed data from 2019 to the present.
In general, participation has increased. But fewer boys in Saguache register to compete. To augment the pool, Hunt said new rules allow eighth-graders to train with varsity teams twice a week.
Attending virtually, Board member Lisa Hammel asked, “Can we have track in Saguache this year?”
Hunt listed equipment to acquire, for example, starting blocks and a high jump pit. Although some of it is weathered, equipment in Moffat may be useful. Hunt volunteered to investigate possibilities.
More than 17 miles separate the schools, which presents challenges for sharing facilities and equipment. Basketball teams wait in Moffat while teams play games on the single court. Meanwhile, two new gyms in Saguache sit unused. Scheduling referees and traveling between towns are not feasible.
The next abbreviated season starts on March 8 — high school volleyball. Wrestling season also starts, but no one signed up from either school district. On March 22, middle schoolers will begin wrestling and volleyball.
Principal Kathy Hill described last week's parent-teacher conferences. Parents made appointments to meet in-person or virtually. She said it was good to see families come to the school, and many preferred to be in the building.
In the future, Hill suggested spreading the conferences over two weeks instead of two nights in one week. Teachers still need to make lesson plans and prepare while maximizing time for students.
On a general note, based on 2020, Hill described difficulty supporting online students. She wondered how many will stay home next year, even after vaccinations reach a majority of people.
“We don’t want to lose those kids,” Hill said. “We need to give them the time and support they need, especially the younger students.”
On Feb. 25, the high schoolers will head to Creede for a day off campus and take a mine tour. Also during the week, the entire middle school will design their own sleds and snowshoes to try out at Buffalo Pass Campground.
The third quarter ends on March 11, followed by spring break on March 15.
Superintendent Garoutte presented a Hazardous Weather Rubric for making decisions for snow days and delayed starts. Modeled after a decision matrix from La Veta, Garoutte’s plan is a point system for ranking different parts of the decision.
If all the students lived in Saguache, planning would be easier. But Garoutte said some come from the top of Poncha Pass, Alamosa, Crestone, South Fork and Del Norte. Travel conditions vary throughout the Valley. So “road conditions” is one category in the decision matrix. Garoutte demonstrated how he accesses road cameras to evaluate conditions in different areas.
Starting between 4 and 5 in the morning, Garoutte examines roads and tracks snow accumulation using the National Weather Service website. His matrix also considers wind speed, temperatures and current visibility.
If the Moffat, Center and Sargeant school districts close, Garoutte’s matrix factors combinations of one, two or all three of them closing.
“This takes guesswork out of the process,” Garoutte explained. “It’s never going to be perfect, but it allows us to explain our decision.”