OPINION: School board can’t take the heat

JOANN KALENAK, SENIOR BLOGGER, DCCR — Delta County School board members wasted no time putting Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education (CHSE) back on the agenda — only slightly more transparently, this time — in response to DCCR’s complaint that they had illegally approved a resolution on the topic. They moved so fast, in fact, that the public was caught by surprise when the CHSE reappeared on the June 17 agenda as “Reconsideration of Resolution 21-015, Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education”. The board clearly didn’t want to see the same groups they’d seen at their April and May meetings.

Another thing was made clear: This board isn’t prepared for public engagement and scrutiny. Despite frequent coaching from their attorney, board members were clearly nervous during the June meeting as they fumbled their way through rescinding their earlier action to abruptly end the conversation on CHSE.

School Board Vice President Dan Burke opened the motion to rescind Resolution 21-015 describing it as an “opportunity to clarify” their actions. When confronted by a constituent who’d asked if the threat of a lawsuit might influence their decision, Burke said no only to be quickly interrupted by board member Beth Suppes who countered with a resounding YES. Suppes was clearly agitated at the prospect of rescinding the resolution even in the face of looming legal action with clear and obvious merit. Only board member Ron Germann had the good sense to obliquely acknowledge that the board had “to do things right”.

Before the June meeting, Board President Jan Tuin had, on several occasions, told the public that the board was planning to conduct a community survey and forums to help the board formulate its sex ed direction. Most residents were waiting for these opportunities to participate in the process. But, when confronted with a hardline faction of folks — a relative handful of Delta County’s 30,000 residents — the school board quickly caved. Somewhere between their April and May board meetings, the kitchen had become too hot.

In the end, the school board voted to rescind their earlier CHSE resolution with one “nay” from Beth Suppes, who preferred to arrogantly stand her ground calling the open meeting violations “minor mistakes”.

Rather then gracefully admit to their open meeting violations and commit to fulfilling the promise of broadened public input, this school board decided to go full circle only to find itself back where it started — between untrustworthy and unprofessional.

Historic Carnegie Library coveted

Commissioners continue to pursue the historic building currently housing the Delta Library to accommodate a planned expansion of the county Sheriff’s department. County and city officials had discussions at a joint work session last Monday and decided a combined meeting between City, County, School and Library Boards is in order.

The Delta County Library is a Carnegie library. Built with money donated by Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, only 750 still exist in U.S. as libraries today.

City staff and the county have discussed possible locations for the Delta library if the county is to take over the current building. One of the options to explore is the old City Market and former Chaco Warehouse building in Delta, which the school district has decided to sell. Staff will obtain a quote to do a space assessment from the consultant that did the Delta Police Department building study to evaluate if and how the library and Delta Police Department could be combined at this location. The county has agreed to help cover the cost of this assessment.

Several years back, cost estimates put a $1.5 million price tag to rehab the library’s asbestos and HVAC problems, while complete interior reconstruction of the old City Market building was estimated at around $4 million. It is unknown what the current costs might be.

Other tasty bites:
County Sheriff’s department to fill in Hotchkiss PD gaps

The Town of Hotchkiss is currently experiencing a transition in law enforcement services for town residents. Sheriff Mark Taylor has assured town residents that his department is currently working with the Town of Hotchkiss to provide all law enforcement services to businesses and residents around the clock.

Commissioner throws public health department under the bus

When confronted with the constituent who complained about the state’s COVID-19 lottery campaign at Tuesday’s Commissioner meeting, Commissioner Don Suppes assured the resident that he and fellow Commissioners had not approved their health department’s promotion of the program. “We believe it’s a personal decision [to get the COVID-19 vaccination],” said Suppes.

The Governor’s “Comeback Cash” program is part of a public health initiative to encourage Coloradans to get vaccinated and open the economy sooner. The Colorado Lottery conducts a random weekly drawing on behalf of the Colorado Department of Health & Environment to identify one vaccinated Colorado resident each week to win a million-dollar cash prize. All Colorado residents age 12 and older who have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, as determined by eligibility rules, are automatically entered into the drawings.