Bats down, lunch prices on the way up

School district meals to see January increase

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Bats are decreasing and lunch prices are increasing. That’s the word from Tuesday’s meeting of the Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1 Board.

Cortez Middle School Principal Jamie Haukeness reported that he saw one bat flying around in the main gymnasium Tuesday morning, along with a few dead bats. The live bat was caught in a butterfly net and released outside.

“I feel like we’re on the upswing,” Haukeness said. But added, “there’s a strong possibility we’re going to encounter some more bats before they’re completely eradicated.”

School officials cancelled a day and a half of school last week after a bat flew into the back of a girl’s head. The girl was not injured.

Superintendent Alex Carter noted the school’s bat escapade even “made the Denver Post.”

The district paid $24,500 and got a one-year warranty from the company Bat Control in case the bats return, but Carter is confident the school’s maintenance team knows how to handle the situation now. Bat Control used a one-way exit valve system consisting of netting and plastic that allows the bats to leave but not re-enter the building. The netting throws off the bats’ sonar and then they can’t cling to the plastic.

Aside from the bat issue, Haukeness reported that some rooms in the middle school are still getting hot, but that the district felt some relief this week due to lower outside temperatures. The highest temperature in any one classroom was 86 degrees on Tuesday, he said.

On Wednesday morning, Re-1 Maintenance Foreman Mike Chenard said workers would likely begin painting the areas in front of the seven air-flow handlers on the roof next week.

The Re-1 Board unanimously voted to raise the price for school lunches by 50 cents in January because it has been partially subsidizing the cost of the lunches by taking money out of free and reduced lunch funds. Prices will increase from $1.50 to $2 for elementary students and $1.75 to $2.25 for middle and high school students. Adult lunches will rise from $2.40 to $2.90.

In other school news, the school board voted to change the title of Lori Haukeness from chief academic officer to assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

The board also approved paying teachers of select classes a stipend instead of including the classtime as part of their regular salary. These classes include: newspaper and yearbook at the middle and high school; American Indian Science and Engineering Society; Zero Hour (before school) Credit Recovery: and Health and Occupational Students of America.