PPOS amends current school year calendar

By Randi Pierce
Staff Writer

Pagosa Peak Open School (PPOS) will now end its school year on June 26 due to distance learning requirements set out by the state.

The change in the school’s instructional days and calendar was approved by the PPOS Board of Directors Monday evening and the Archuleta School District Board of Education (BOE) Tuesday evening.

“As you know, the governor has asked for all in-person instruction to cease for the remainder of the school year, and it took a while to kind of look at what that meant for a year-round school. Our last day of the current calendar for PPOS is actually on Aug. 6. When it was announced that we would be distance learning until the end of the school year, we initially saw kind of a dip in our participation from our families, but we worked hard to kind of regain their attention, but I do feel that it would be hard to remain and keep their attention all the way until Aug. 6 through the summer,” PPOS School Director Angela Reali Crossland told the BOE Tuesday evening.

Crossland informed both boards that PPOS has extra days built into its schedule for things such as snow days, which the school did not use this year, and summer field work, which won’t be happening under distance learning.

She told the boards that she realized that, by adding five days to the distance learning calendar in June, PPOS would meet the state’s requirements of 160 days and wouldn’t be over the needed hours.

“That would allow us to have some time for our staff, actually, to look at different ways of making sure we’re meeting our students’ needs as well in the fall,” she explained to the BOE.

Crossland also noted to both boards that PPOS is fundraising for and planning a series of academic camps that would see PPOS bring small groups of students back into the building when the school is able, hopefully as early as August.

Her hope, she told the board, is for every PPOS student to go to a themed academic remediation camp that would be equivalent to five school days for groups of 20 students and four staff members.

If unable to begin the camps in August, Crossland told the BOE the camps would be held over breaks during the next school year.

The BOE had to approve the request due to a provision in PPOS’s charter with the school district that states PPOS will have one extra school day as compared to the district’s schools.

Crossland also informed the board that, when she reached out to the Schools of Choice office with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) about the matter, it moved ahead with approving the waiver.

“I didn’t realize that they were going to go forward, but they pushed my request through and it has been approved by CDE as long as you guys are also in agreeance with it,” she told the BOE.

BOE President Brooks Lindner asked Crossland if project-based learning has become more challenging for the school in the current environment.

“It definitely has been,” Crossland acknowledged, explaining that the school has been working to hold onto its mission and is sending materials home for projects that the classes are working on, such as garden kits, math games, water study kits and kits for watching metamorphosis of caterpillars becoming butterflies.

She further explained she created a committee to come up with a set of four distance learning plan options for the fall to be better prepared, whether for in-person instruction, a combination of distance learning and in-person, and distance learning options.

She further noted she’s been in contact with other area schools that do project-based learning and is looking at a regional coalition for the schools to come together and learn from each other.

Both boards unanimously approved PPOS’s request to revise its calendar.

“I’m glad we could help them out with that. Those guys are doing a solid job,” BOE president Brooks Lindner stated after the vote.

Auditing services

The PPOS board and the BOE also both approved the hiring of Wall, Smith, Bateman Inc. to provide auditing services for their respective entities.

On Monday, PPOS Business Manager told the PPOS board the firm comes highly recommended, and, on Tuesday, the district’s finance director, Mike Hodgson noted references were received from a number of schools.

He also noted that both entities having the same auditing firm makes things “easier for everyone.”


This story was posted on May 20, 2020.