Beefed-up dress code enforcement coming next year to Moffat County School District
As 2018-19 school year comes to a close, so will a lenient dress code policy that has allowed some students to sport hats to class.
Starting next year, Moffat County School District teachers and staff will have to enforce a strict hat ban at area campuses after the Board of Education passed a dress code policy limiting the accessory during a its April 25 meeting.
Dress code enforcement, transportation upgrades and the district’s 20-year master plan were among the most discussed topics during the board’s public work session.
Battle of the hats
The board of education unanimously passed a series of board policy revisions in line with recommendations from the Colorado Association of School Boards during April’s regular meeting. But one policy required a noticeably longer debate among school board members and district staff: to ban hats or not to ban hats.
The board reviewed, and later approved, a dress code policy which will reinforce the restriction of hats from all school campuses, among other things, although one administrator, when asked to weigh in, expressed her concern for the upcoming “battle of the hats” next fall.
“We have bigger fish to fry at the high school right now,” Moffat County High School Assistant Principal Sarah Hepworth said. “But if you pass this, we will battle the hats. It’s just like any other conflict with human beings, it’s which hill do you want to die on.”
Beginning with the 2019-20 school year, per the board’s revised dress code policy, students will be forbidden from wearing the following “disruptive” items: shorts, dresses or skirts shorter than mid-thigh length; sunglasses, cosmetic contacts or hats worn inside; inappropriate sheer, holey, tight or low-cut clothing; tank tops or shirts with straps less than 1.5-inch width; and clothing or accessories which include obscene, sexual, gang-related, or drug and alcohol references.
On first violation, students will be given a warning and have an opportunity to change clothes. If a student receives three written dress code violations the student may be suspended or subject to further disciplinary action, board policy states.
Colorado-based agency Anderson Consulting presented an analysis of the district’s aging transportation department to the board. The firm advised the board to invest in school buses, to consolidate two department heads and train a cost-effective in-house bus inspector.
“One of our major concerns are the age of the fleet,” Anderson Consulting co-founder David Anderson said. “The school buses are quite old.”
Anderson said the district needed a “robust replacement plan” for the aging fleet of more than 20 school buses. To enhance efficiency, he also recommended the district combine the the director of facilities and director of transportation positions. Currently, the district is technically without a transportation director, but recently elected Mayor Jarrod Ogden is doing double duty as the director of both departments.
Ogden weighed in on Anderson’s suggestions, estimating each new bus purchased would cost the district between $100,000 and $115,000. Ogden offered to research if the district could lease buses instead as a possible cost-saving measure.
“At a bare minimum we need to look at a bus a year, just to try to get back to a less aging fleet,” Ogden said.
Anderson and Superintendent David Ulrich complimented the transportation department staff for the continued upkeep of the district’s aging school bus fleet.
“The fact that the buses are running and safe and passing inspection is a testament to these guys who have been working on these buses,” Ulrich said. “If they weren’t safe, they wouldn’t be on the road period, but they are past their lifespan.”
The board of education learned the district will not need to build new facilities or additions, but the existing structures will need an array of updates, according to a preliminary analysis by architecture firm Treanor HL contracted to provide a 20-year master plan for the district.
“I think what it’s (the facility assessment) really revealed to us is that your facilities seem to be the right facilities going forward,” Treanor HL associate Chad Novak said. “We don’t see a need for new facilities or large additions. They just need to be refreshed.”
In a series of meetings with school administrators across the district, Novak said Treanor HL’s team found a set of common requests between the campuses: the aesthetic modernization of the school buildings, increased campus safety and improved community usage of school facilities.
Patrick Johnson, Treanor HL associate, relayed a series of itemized requests from district staff to the board of education.
“Reinvent the libraries — learning is not so much around the book, but around the computer now,” Johnson said. “Reinventing the cafeterias to be more than just a lunch room. Flexible furniture. Flexible spaces. Improved and increased daylight — a lot of research has highlighted the importance of daylight in education. Additional power outlets. Adding air conditioning. Improving athletics and football as a community resource and continuing to evolve Sandrock from a junior high into an elementary school.”
Board president Jo Ann Baxter expressed her support for the master plan & proposed updates, but emphasized the need for better communication with the public.
“There’s a lot of stuff that has to happen before we can go to the public and say we need more resources to do it,” Baxter said. “There’s a need for an explanation. How do we fund it and when do we fund it?”
Novak said he agreed with Baxter.
“If there’s confusion on the message, then it’ll be harder,” Novak said. “It’s a non-starter.”
Treanor HL associates will present a cost analysis of potential upgrades to the board during a public work session on May 16. The final master plan is expected to be completed by the end of the month.
Finance director John Wall remotely presented an update on the district’s budget from Florida. According to the finance director’s calculations, the district should end the year in better standing than previously envisioned.
During the regular board meeting, dozens of students were recognized for their academic achievements. The following 15 students were celebrated for successfully completing the district’s English as a Second Language program for 2018-19: Angela Almaraz, Guadalupe Lopez, Mayerling Lopez Alvarez, David Lopez Gutierrez, Nashaly Medina, Danna Montanez Alcantar, Raul Morales Martinez, Joshua Pando, Jazlin Quezada, Julian Quinonez, Marcos Romero, Karina Romero Valdivia, Alejandro Tarango, Aldo Trevizo Burciaga, and Jesus Valencia.
MCHS seniors Angel Rodriguez, Naomi Magallanes and Larissa Payan were recognized as the district’s first group of students to complete a Seal of Biliteracy in Moffat County.
Zachary Patterson, Bryson Davis and Tauren Farquharson were celebrated for their state FFA achievements.
Lastly, a robot and some of its MCHS freshman creators — Alexander Nichols, Amelia Seim, Cody Eckhoff, Evan Allen, and Kadin Hume — showcased their engineering talents before the board members. Earlier this year, the robotics team took home the “Rookie Inspiration Award” at the FIRST Robotics Competition.
Members of the public are welcome to attend the next board of education work session at 4:30 p.m. May 16 in the Yampa Building Board Room with a regular meeting to follow at 6:30 p.m.