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RE-1 Board announces superintendent finalist Dr. Vanderwey

May 3, 2021

The District Board of Directors met in a public board meeting on Thursday, April 29. At this meeting, the board, by majority vote, selected Risha VanderWey as a finalist for the position of District Superintendent. The board, parents, staff and community took part in interviews for three potential candidates. The two other candidates were Dr. Rebecca Benedict and Mr. Joseph Aldridge.

The board will be voting on Dr. VanderWey’s contract at the board meeting on May 11, 2021. She is slated to begin her position on July 1, 2021.

Risha VanderWey resides in Flagstaff, AZ. She is currently employed as Superintendent in the Tuba City Unified School District, Tuba City, AZ. Ms. VanderWey holds a Doctorate: Educational Leadership. Her record of professional experience includes Coconino County Superintendent of Schools, Principal for Page Unified School District in Page, AZ and teacher and instructional coach for the Flagstaff Unified School District in Flagstaff, AZ.

In her application for the position she states, in part, “As the Superintendent, it is important to focus on the broader picture of the needs across the district to provide adequate systems of support for professional development needs, early education programs, college readiness and retention and recruitment of highly effective teachers, while also ensuring that all students are given the opportunity to learn the academic and social skills necessary for them to be successful citizens within the 21st. Century."

RE-1 Board selects additional Superintendent Finalist

April 23, 2021

The RE-1 Board has selected one additional finalist for the Superintendent position, Dr. Rebecca Benedict.  Dr. Rebecca Benedict has 27 years of administrative experience in education, including experience as a teacher, Principal, and Assistant Superintendent. Dr. Benedict currently works in Central Consolidated School District as Principal of Kirtland Central High School. Dr. Benedict shared “I am applying for the superintendent position at Cortez so that I can continue their commitment to educational excellence and continue to develop global-ready graduates who will "achieve their personal goals and maintain academic growth." This leadership position is crucial in developing relationships with the community and business partners while building the framework for students to discover and develop their special talents and achieve their individual goals.. It is our job, as educators and me, as the leader of the district, to provide the model that allows students to achieve their highest potential by empowering them to take ownership of their education. They need to be equipped with the necessary skills to obtain their educational and career goals and ensure they are "engaged in active citizenship." I will be that superintendent who identifies and addresses problems, celebrates successes, honors and supports cultural diversity. I will help communicate student achievement goals, requirements, and expectations with staff, students, parents and community members. I will be that superintendent who is highly visible and approachable in the district as well as the community modeling to students that it is important to get involved and give back to the community and support community initiatives and give a hand up to those in need. Developing a student's character is an important part of their overall education. During my tenure as Director of Schools and Assistant Superintendent, seven of our fifteen schools improved one or two letter grades. Throughout my career, I have always led "Recognized," and "Exemplary" schools. Being a good leader requires professional competence and character and the ability to accept personal responsibility for achieving the mission the Board, staff and community have developed while ensuring students contribute to the community in positive and effective ways. I am that leader. I believe in the collaborative approach with staff and community while executing the vision, mission and goals of the district."

RE-1 Superintendent Finalists Announced

April 14, 2021

The Montezuma-Cortez Board of Education is pleased to announce that they have selected 2 candidates to interview for the RE-1 superintendent vacancy. Interviews are scheduled to be conducted the week of April 26, 2021 and the board will be selecting participants for those interview committees representing parents, community members, teachers, and district staff.  The community will have the opportunity to meet the final candidates during a meet-and-greet at MCHS Commons on April 26th from 6:00-8:00. The board intends to make their selection by May 3, 2021.

The candidates selected for interviews are:

  • Dr. Risha VanderWey, Flagstaff, Arizona
  •  Joseph Aldridge, Sonora, California

Dr. Risha VanderWey brings over 20 years of experience as an educator including 7 years of experience as a Superintendent in Tuba City Unified School District and in Coconino County, Arizona.  Dr. VanderWey shared that “It is my goal to take the skills, knowledge, and expertise that I have obtained in my previous positions in administration and in the classroom to be an innovative leader, guide and advocate for students, families, educators and community stakeholders. I excel at collaborative consensus building, establishing positive culture and climates, creating and implementing school improvement plans driven by data, mentoring and coaching teachers and administration, and adhering to district policies and procedures. I am interested in this position because of my commitment and passion for all children pre-K – 12 to have access to an innovative and high-quality education. Families and community members should have input and a voice in the direction of high-quality educational decisions side-by-side the governing board in order to provide the best educational setting for the children.”

Joseph Aldridge brings 19 years of experience as an educator including 4 years of experience as a Superintendent in Columbia Union School District.  Mr. Aldridge shared that “In my roles in education, I brought a passion for the design and implementation of inclusive programs that meet all students’ needs in pursuit of a career and college ready education. I believe that to achieve true equity in education, we have to provide learners with the skills to self-advocate for the most appropriate instructional strategies to enable maximum engagement in learning. We also have to support our educators in growing and developing the art of teaching as it relates to student self-advocacy. Relationships are at the core of my work. I am adept at working with all stakeholders to ensure that their voices are heard. I have earned the trust of my community through open and honest communication paired with follow through on commitments. I have always focused on the ultimate outcome of education: successful employment.”

For more information: Contact Norm Ridder & Paul Reich, McPherson & Jacobson, L.L.C. 402-991-7031 or 888-375-4814



District shares two calendar options for 2021-22 - Feedback requested

The district calendar committee has developed two calendar options for consideration for the 2021-22 school year.  The calendar committee is composed of teacher representatives, an elementary and high school principal, and district leadership.  In developing the calendar options, the committee considered

  • The minimum number of instructional hours required by Colorado law;
  • The time needed to run two bus routes (elementary and secondary) on the start and end times or the potential for going to a single bus route (the district would need to purchase additional buses);
  • The need to set aside time for teacher professional development and collaboration;
  •  The impact of the two calendars on the district’s ability to attract and retain teachers;
  • The impact of the two calendars families and students.

The calendar committee is offering the following two calendars for consideration.  Below is a summary of each of the calendar options and associated considerations:

Traditional calendar (based on the 2020-21 school year)

  • Traditional start and end dates for school year
  • Traditional start and end times for school day
  • Maintains two bus routes for elementary and secondary
  • Maintains dedicated professional development and collaboration time for teachers
  • Meets required CDE instructional hours

4-day school week (based on Mancos’s  calendar)

  • Similar to other regional districts so may help district attract and retain teachers;
  • Calendar starts a week earlier and goes a week later in the year in order to meet minimum required hours without lengthening the school day for students and teachers;
  • Based on two bus routes for elementary and secondary (could be reduced to one route if district purchased more buses);
  • May need to have secondary start earlier and elementary start later;
  • Parents may need additional childcare on Friday;
  • Maintains dedicated professional development and collaboration time for teachers on every other Friday;
  • Meets required CDE instructional hours.

Next steps: The district is sending out a survey to all staff, parents, and community members to solicit feedback for the board of education on these two options. The link to the survey is below and the survey will be open until April 9 

The board will be reviewing feedback and adopting a calendar at their April board meeting.  Please reach out to district offices with any questions.



Dear RE-1 Parents and Families,

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started impacting our district a year ago our goal has always been to provide as many safe in-person learning days as possible along with quality online and remote instruction and programming. The district is pleased that we have been able to offer more safe in-person days of instruction than most other districts in the state and country. This is due to the dedication and commitment of our staff, students, and families to following COVID safety protocols and guidance from our Health Department.  Current guidance suggests that those individuals who are willing and eligible to be vaccinated should receive the COVID 19 vaccine in order to promote overall health and avoid additional exposures and the need for quarantines.  This is one tool in our toolbox to enable us to continue to prioritize safe in-person instruction.

The district held our first COVID-19 vaccination clinic for staff in February and over 200 staff were vaccinated at that time.  The vaccination clinic for the second dose will be held the weekend of March 20th.  As you may know many individuals experience flu-like symptoms following the second dose of this vaccine.  Due to the number of our staff receiving the vaccination and the potential for staff experiencing these symptoms, the district has decided to offer a remote learning day on Monday, March 22nd.  Therefore, the district schools will not be open for in-person learning on March 22nd but teachers will be providing remote learning assignments to all students the Friday before.  In-person learning will resume on Tuesday, March 23rd.

Please feel free to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns.  Thank you again for your support of our district and our commitment to ensuring staff and student safety and health.


Lori Haukeness


Superintendent Lori Haukeness announces she will retire at the end of the school year

January 13, 2021

Superintendent Haukeness has notified the Board of her intention to retire at the end of this school year, sharing that “It has been a privilege to serve the students in this district and have deep gratitude to the Board of Education in 2017 that hired me to lead the district as superintendent.”  Superintendent Haukeness sent a letter to staff on Tuesday, announcing her retirement, stating “Above all, I am most proud of the staff that makes up the heartbeat of the district.  Each and every one of you makes a difference in the lives of our students and it is a great privilege to lead such amazing professionals.”  The RE-1 Board and staff would like to extend their gratitude to Superintendent Haukeness for her years of service and wish her the best in her retirement.  During her 27 years with RE-1, Ms. Haukeness served as Dean of Students, Principal at Mesa Elementary, Chief Academic Officer in charge of the district curriculum and instruction, Assistant Superintendent, and Superintendent.

Superintendent Haukeness shared that she had four key goals when she accepted the Superintendent role:

1.      Create a strategic plan to guide the district with a shared vision and goals;

2.      Improve student achievement and school and district accreditation;

3.      Improve staff satisfaction and retention as well as increasing staff salaries to be more competitive;

4.      Ensure the district is financially stable and is directing resources to schools to serve student needs through student-centered budgeting

Lori Haukeness served as Superintendent for RE-1 from 2016-2021, during which time she led the district in the development of a strategic plan, which outlined shared goals, values, and priorities for the district.   The district has experienced significant improvements in student achievement, graduation, drop-out, and financial stability and sustainability under Superintendent Haukeness’ leadership.   Specifically, the majority of our schools improved their accreditation ratings including:  Manaugh and Battle Rock moving from Turnaround to Performance; Mesa moving from Turnaround to Improvement; and Cortez Middle School moving from Priority Improvement to Improvement. 

During the past five years, the district elementary achievement in reading has improved by 5%, achievement in math has improved by 2%, the graduation rate has improved by 6.2% and the MCHS drop-out rate has improved by 3.5%.  This means more of our students are successfully staying in school and graduating.  “Throughout my 27-year career with RE-1, our students have been my reason for coming to work.” Said Lori Haukeness, “I am so proud of the student achievement gains we have made as a district and of the growing number of RE-1 students who are graduating and pursuing their dreams and giving back to our community.”

This past year, Superintendent Haukeness led a community stakeholder group composed of business, Tribal, and community members to gather community input on the community vision for the district and for a successful RE-1 graduate.  This led to the development of our Profile of a Successful Graduate, which will guide our students’ education in our schools and their contributions to our community for years to come.  “We will miss Lori’s support of the school and always putting students first.” Said Eric Chandler, Principal of MCHS.  “Her leadership has been vital in moving the district and MCHS forward.”

The district also improved its financial transparency and stability during Superintendent Haukeness’ term.   The district operated under a balanced budget, was financially conservative, and managed to create a strong enough financial reserve fund to be able to weather the economic downturn created by COVID without laying off staff or reducing sports or other programming like so many other districts in Colorado were forced to do during the downturn.  

Superintendent Haukeness also championed teachers throughout her career and led district efforts to increase teacher salaries and improve teacher satisfaction.  During Superintendent Haukeness’ term the district was able to provide teachers with several retention incentives as well as adjusting the overall salary schedule for teachers to become more competitive and to recognize our teachers.  Teacher satisfaction also improved during this period with 88.5% of teachers saying that their school “was a good place to work” in the most recent survey.

“I will always be grateful for the opportunity to serve the students and staff at RE-1 and for the incredible progress that we made together for our students,” said Lori Haukeness “I will remain a strong advocate for our schools and students and teachers in my role as a community member”.

“As RE-1 board member, including several years as board chair, I’ve enjoyed working with Superintendent Lori Haukeness. I appreciate her leadership that has enabled significant improvements in student performance and graduation rates.” Said Jack Schuenemeyer, former RE-1 Board Chair, “Teachers and administrative staff have become more engaged. She has been an effective communicator to parents, students, and the community.  This district can be justly proud that one of our graduates has distinguished herself in the leadership role of superintendent.”

The RE-1 Board will be discussing the Superintendent search and next steps at the RE-1 Board meeting on January 20th.  The meeting starts at 7:00 and more information can be found on Facebook and on the district website.

District to Return to In-Person learning on january 6th, 2021

December 30, 2020

Dear RE-1 Parents and Families,

I hope you all are enjoying a much-deserved break and had a wonderful and safe Christmas.   As you know the board decided before winter break that we will return to in-person instruction on January 6th.   We have continued to monitor our local data and additional information as well as consult with members of our Health Advisory Committee and board and today we confirmed that we will be returning to in-person on January 6th as announced prior to the break.

To support our staff and students in returning to in-person learning we will be implementing several additional layers of protection that were requested by staff and endorsed by our health advisory team including:

  • Expanding masking for students – students in K-4 will now be required to mask inside buildings starting second semester.  This means that all students K-12 will be required to wear masks in our school buildings and on buses.
  • Seating charts and other efforts at middle and high school to further limit close contacts and enhance contact tracing.

In addition, the Governor announced today that teachers have been moved up in the priority for vaccinations and are now in Phase I-B (winter) for vaccinations along with older adults and other essential workers, which is great news.  We will be working closely with our Health Department on the plan and timeline for teacher vaccinations.

As we return to in-person learning and prepare for the coming vaccine, we all have a part to play in keeping ourselves, each other, and our students safe and healthy.   Each of our teachers and staff are doing our best to be able to continue to provide safe, in-person instructional options for your child(ren) but we need everyone to help us with that goal. Each of us has a responsibility to follow public health guidance.  I am personally asking that you wear a mask and socially distance when you are out in public or around others not in your household.  These simple practices make a huge difference and together we have the ability to keep our community healthy, save lives, and support our safe return to in-person instruction.  

In order for us to be prepared to successfully start serving your students in-person on January 6th, our staff will be in the buildings planning and cleaning on January 4th and 5th.  Buses will run as usual on the 6th and we will follow our normal calendar with early release on the 6th.

Thank you all and we look forward to seeing your child(ren) in the New Year,

Lori Haukeness, Superintendent



December 16, 2020

Dear Parents and Families,

I trust this finds you and your family well during this holiday season.  As we complete our fall semester, I am grateful to all of our teachers and students who have continued to focus on learning during the challenges posed by COVID.  Throughout this year we have been committed to providing as many safe in-person learning days as possible.   Yesterday, the state published a Roadmap for In-Person Learning, with updated research and guidance that encouraged all schools in Colorado to strongly consider returning to in-person learning second semester with appropriate health and safety protocols (masks, social distancing, enhanced cleaning, contact tracing, etc).  This Roadmap report from the state along with our updated COVID response plan will be posted on our website this week.

The board reviewed this new information at last night’s board meeting and the district made the decision to return our schools and students to in-person learning starting January 6th for all grades pre-school through high school pending ongoing consultation with the Health Department.  This in-person option will be available at all of our schools to our students who were enrolled in our in-person instruction in the Fall as well as any students who have notified their school that they have chosen to return from CDLS to in-person instruction for the next semester.  The district will also continue to offer the CDLS fully online program for students enrolled in that option for the spring semester.  Anyone wishing to transition to CDLS for second semester or to in-person learning must notify your home school no later than Friday, 18th.  

We are excited to welcome your student(s) back to school whether students will be returning in person or through CDLS online.  Throughout this year, we have been committed to providing a healthy and safe learning and working environment to staff and students.  The district will continue to implement our revised COVID safety plan and will continue our ongoing consultation with the Health Department and Hospital to continue to monitor local COVID cases and our plan.  While we do not anticipate changes to our return date, if there are changes in our local COVID data that would keep us from returning on the 6th we will notify staff and parents no later than December 30th.  Staff, parents, and community members can help us in our efforts to return safely to in-person learning by honoring public health guidance and wearing masks in public, social distancing, and being safe in any holiday plans. 

In order for us to be prepared to successfully start serving your students in-person on January 6th, our staff will be in the buildings planning and cleaning on January 4th and 5th.  Buses will run as usual on the 6th and we will follow our normal calendar with early release on the 6th.

We appreciate the continued support from our teachers and community.  I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Lori Haukeness, Superintendent


District to transition to remote online learning November 12th

Dear Families and Community,

Last Wednesday notification was sent out from the district sharing our plan to move to remote learning from Thanksgiving until after the New Year based on recommendations from the Health Department and Hospital. Since that announcement, the number of cases in our community have continued to increase dramatically. The County’s cases have increased from 244 last Monday to over 300 as of today. This increase in cases is placing additional stress on our health care system and health care workers.

An additional impact of the increase in COVID cases has been an increase in the number of our staff and students who are in quarantine or out sick. This is leading to significant challenges in our ability to provide the quality and safe in-person instruction that we are committed to providing. Based on the health and safety challenges to our community posed by the increase in COVID cases and the current impact on our staffing and in consultation with the Health Department and RE-1 Board, I have decided to move the district to remote learning much sooner than originally planned.

This means the district will be moving to remote learning for all schools, starting Thursday, November 12th and are planning to return to in-person instruction by January 11th, based on consultation with the Health Department and Hospital.

Resources for remote learning: All in-person students will be sent home on Wednesday with their chromebook and instructions and other resources for online remote learning. Remote learning will be provided on google classroom by our district teachers, using district curriculum. Students already enrolled in CDLS classes will remain in the CDLS online program.

School meals: The district will begin grab-and-go meal service by Monday, November 16th and the order form for these meals will be available later this week on our website and on Facebook.

Parent Town Hall: We will be hosting a parent town hall with Dr Aikin on Tuesday, November 10th at 5:30 to share more information and answer your questions. Please join our Zoom Meeting tomorrow at 5:30 by clicking this link -

I appreciate the flexibility that this requires from our staff, students, and families and recognize that this timeline presents additional challenges. However, the dramatic increase in cases mean that we need to transition as soon as possible to comply with public health guidance. We are committed to doing our part as a district in helping keep our community safe and in helping to slow the increase in COVID cases. We are equally committed to providing a quality education to all our students throughout this year.

I urge everyone to follow public health guidance to help slow the spread of COVID in our community. We look forward to working with the Health Department and Hospital to continue to evaluate our community COVID cases and to ensure we have a plan to return to in-person learning again as soon as we can safely do so.

Be well,

Lori Haukeness, Superintendent

District to transition to Remote learning between Thanksgiving and the New Year

November 4, 2020

Dear Parents, Families, and Community,

Throughout this challenging year, our commitment has always been to put the health and safety of our students and staff at the forefront and to provide a quality education to our students.  We have been grateful to work closely with our partners at the Montezuma County Public Health Department and Southwest Health and our community hospital.   Unfortunately, our cases in Montezuma County and across our region and state have risen dramatically in the past month.  According to the hospital our cases rose by 96 in the month of October alone, which represents a 70% increase compared to the first 7 months of the pandemic.   In Colorado, cases are up over 100% over the past two weeks and hospitalizations are up over 70%.  Southwest Memorial Hospital is reporting an increase of patients needing hospitalization locally and concerns that the state capacity to treat higher needs patients, including patients that may need to be transported from Montezuma County, is being stretched by the current increase in cases.

Due to these increases, both the Montezuma County Health Department and Southwest Memorial Hospital leadership sent letters recommending that the school districts in Montezuma County transition to fully remote online learning from Thanksgiving until just after the New Year.   

The district takes the health and safety of our students and staff very seriously as well as the guidance and recommendations from our local and state medical experts.  Therefore, in collaboration with the RE-1 Board of Education, I have decided to honor the health department’s request to transition all of our schools to remote learning from Thanksgiving to New Year’s and to consult with the Health Department and Hospital after the first of the year on the appropriate date to return safely to in-person learning.

This means that all students in RE-1 will be transitioning to remote learning starting November 30, 2020. We are planning to return to in-person learning by January 11th, based on consultation with the Health Department and Hospital and our local and regional COVID data. 

Your child’s school and teachers have been planning for the potential for remote online learning for this year given our challenges with COVID.  Students who are transitioning from in-person to temporary remote online learning will continue to be taught by their current teachers using the district adopted curriculum.  This will be different than our students who are already enrolled online through our CDLS program. These CDLS students will continue with their online CDLS program and teachers.  We are committed to continuing to provide a quality education for your student as well as access to school lunches and other supports during this period of temporary remote online learning. 

I realize moving the district to remote learning creates a hardship in addition to an already stressful time.  The COVID virus is far worse and more susceptible than the influenza. The district will be monitoring the COVID outbreak with the health department and hospital through the holidays.  If there is a decrease in level of risk of exposure the district will move back in to in person learning as soon as possible.

The district will be holding a parent town hall on Zoom on Tuesday, November 10th at 5:30 to share more and answer your questions (information will be posted on our Facebook and website).  In addition, your child’s school will be providing more specific information from your child’s teachers on how you can prepare for and participate in the remote learning and teaching during this time. 

I deeply appreciate the diligence and persistence that our teachers and students have shown this year and I know that working together we will meet any challenges that arise and come through stronger as a district and community.  

Lori Haukeness, Superintendent

Start date delayed to August 24th

The district notified parents and staff on August 14th of the Board of Education’s decision to postpone the start of school by one week to August 24th for in-person instruction and August 26th for online instruction.  This decision was made in response to two important challenges that have arisen over the past week and have impacted district leadership and staff’s ability to implement the reopening plan. Throughout this planning process the district leadership and Board of Education have been committed to providing a healthy and safe learning and working environment to staff and students.  The district has also been committed to providing parents with a choice between in-person instruction and a fully online program and to providing a quality education to ALL RE-1 students – whether they attend in-person or online this year.

Please click on the button below to read the full letter from Superintendent Haukeness. 


July 16th Parent and family meeting presentation

Superintendent Haukeness and team held a parent and family meeting on current planning for reopening school on July 16th.  The presentation and recorded video are posted below. We are in the process of creating a FAQ based on parent questions from the meeting and will post that as soon as we can on this page.  Please feel free to reach out to the district with questions in the meantime.

July 16, 2020 Superintendent Online meeting with families on reopening schools


Dear Parents and Families,

I hope your summer is providing some needed time for relaxation and family time together.  We are continuing to plan for safely welcoming students back to school in the Fall.  As I have shared previously, we are planning on offering in-person instruction again this fall for all schools and grade levels.  In addition, we will be offering a fully online school option for students whose parents would prefer that option.   This will be different than the spring temporary online learning and will be a full-year enrollment option. 

Our first commitment is to the health and safety of our staff and students.  We are pleased to be working closely with the Montezuma County Department of Public Health, medical professionals from the hospital, and other local physicians to develop a plan that will address the state’s health and safety guidance as well as what research is telling us about providing a safe learning environment.  Our final plan will be reviewed and approved by this team.  We are also working on back-up plans in case our community experiences a significant outbreak of COVID.   These back-up plans would likely include a blend of in-person and online learning or short periods of school closure supported by online learning.

We would like to share elements of our plan to reopen schools safely and talk about what school will look like in the Fall with our parents, families, and community.  I would like to personally invite you to an online Town Hall that I am hosting on Thursday, July 16th at 4:00pm.  At this Town Hall we will present information on our current plans for reopening schools and have an opportunity to hear your questions, concerns, or suggestions.   Below is the information for signing onto that town hall.  This information will also be posted on Facebook and on our website.

Time: Jul 16, 2020 04:00 PM Mountain Time 

Join Zoom Meeting 

Password: 636643

We are excited to welcome our students back to school and look forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions about our plans.

Thank you again,

Lori Haukeness



June 5, 2020 Superintendent Statement on planning for 2020-21 school year


Dear Families and Community,

I hope your summer is providing some needed time for relaxation and family time together.  We appreciated everyone's support with our temporary online learning that we offered this spring in response to the Governor's order to close our school buildings.   I applaud our teachers' efforts to providing ongoing instruction and support to students and families and I am grateful to our families for the level of support they provided to students at home to support this online learning.  I also speak for all our staff in saying that we missed seeing our students every day and being together in an in-person learning environment.

I know many of you are wondering what school will look like in the Fall.  Our team has been working diligently to plan for next year and our priority is to welcome students and teachers back to school for in-person learning in a safe and healthy way.  We are in ongoing communication with the Colorado Department of Education and the Governor's Office to better understand what those safety guidelines might be and how we can best implement them locally in partnership with our Montezuma County Department of Public Health.   At this time based on a meeting with the Governor, we believe we will be able to welcome our students and teachers back to school safely in the Fall, but we are still working on the plans to do that.  These health and safety measures will probably include things like daily health screenings for staff and students, enhanced cleaning, enhanced hygiene, and changes to scheduling to create student learning groups that will do the majority of their learning together in smaller groups to limit the chances of the spread of the virus between groups.  We are also working on back-up plans in case our community experiences a significant outbreak of COVID.   These back-up plans would likely include a blend of in-person and online learning or short periods of school closure supported by online learning.

I know that there may also be some families who may wish to enroll their students in a fully online learning option for a variety of reasons.   The district is also planning to offer a fully online schooling option for families that would choose this opportunity.  This will be different than the spring temporary online learning and will be a full-year enrollment option. 

The Board of Education and I are committed to providing a safe, healthy, and engaging education to all of our students this Fall.  As we continue our planning based on the guidance from the state and our local health department, we also want to ensure we are communicating with the community regarding our planning process and hearing from teachers, families, and students.  We conducted several surveys this spring and are using that feedback from teachers, families, and students to inform our planning.  We will also be having a board work session on June 16th to discuss our Fall back-to-school plans and our budget in light of anticipated state budget cuts to education.  We are also planning for several online town halls to share more information on our planning with the community, to answer questions, and hear feedback.  We will be communicating more information on those dates and times soon.  All meetings and links to the online format will be posted on our Facebook and website and I would like to personally invite you to join our online board meetings and our upcoming town halls.   We are stronger together and we appreciate the ongoing community support of our students and schools.

Thank you again,

Lori Haukeness


april 22 - Superintendent statement on continuing online school and end of school year plans


Dear Parents and Community,

It’s hard to believe that we are completing our third week of online learning.  I am so appreciative of all of the hard work and creativity that all of you have put in to create online learning and engagement opportunities for all of our students.  In addition to our core courses, our teachers and counselors are offering different opportunities for students to explore areas of interest and continue connections with teachers, counselors, and other students.  Our nutrition services team has also been hard at work serving meals to students and families and we are serving an average of over 650 lunches and breakfast meals per day.  

As most of you have heard the Governor’s Office issued a directive on Monday that officially closed all school buildings in the state through the end of the school year.  The state association of athletics (CHSAA) also cancelled all spring sports seasons so there will be no spring sports this year.  This means that we will be continuing our online learning through the end of the year.   We wanted to provide you with some important updates as we continue our online learning through the end of the year.

  •  Grading and attendance: We have also received some questions on how grading and attendance will be handled during this online period.   The district is expecting that all students participate in the weekly lessons and assignments.  Teachers are monitoring student participation in Google Classroom and are checking completed assignments.  If students don’t participate in weekly lessons and assignment, the schools will call home to notify parents.  A full statement regarding our online learning attendance and grading approach is posted on our website under Temporary Online Learning.
  • Parent and family feedback survey: We will be sending a survey to all parents by the end of the week to gather your feedback on our online learning.  We would like to hear what is going well, what challenges you and your student are experiencing, and how we can continue to improve our supports moving forward.  We appreciate you taking the time to complete this survey as it will help us improve our supports and services.
  •  End of year planning: The district is working on plans for allowing students and staff back into the buildings at the end of the year to gather their belongings.  We are creating a plan for this that will comply with all safety and health guidance from the health department.  We will be communicating more information on this shortly.
  • Class of 2020 and Graduation: MCHS staff are working diligently with each Senior to ensure they have the credits necessary to graduate and have the support they need to plan for college or career opportunities after graduation.  The high school is convening a committee to look at alternative ways to help our seniors celebrate graduation.  More information will be posted on the MCHS website. The continuation of online learning impacts all our students, but especially our Class of 2020 Seniors.  We share the disappointment that our graduation ceremony will not be what we all envisioned.  But we are committed to finding ways to celebrate our seniors and their incredible accomplishments.

Our goal is to work together to meet all of our students’ needs to the best of our abilities during this time and to continue to improve our online instruction.  Your feedback and engagement are critical to helping us do that so please take the time to fill out our parent and family survey when you receive it.  Our teachers and staff will continue to work with you to understand your needs and help answer your questions and provide support so we can move forward together. 

Thank you and be well,

Lori Haukeness, Superintendent


March 26 - Update on school meals, technology, and april 6 start date for online school


Dear Parents and Community,

Things are rapidly changing in our world and community, but I am proud to say that we are rising to meet these unexpected challenges as a community and district.  We have been meeting regularly with our county partners and there is a high level of community cooperation and working together to address the challenges posed by COVID.  We have also been working together as a district team with district leadership, principals, teacher leaders, and directors to create the plans that we will need to move us forward.  As most of you have heard the Governor’s Office issued a directive that officially closed all school buildings in the state through April 17th, but this closure could extend much longer and we need to plan for all possibilities. 

Our board met at a special meeting on Tuesday and we agreed to officially start online school on April 6th. This will allow our teachers time to plan and allow the district time to set up supports for families in accessing technology and internet.  Here are some important updates on our plans:

  • School lunches and breakfast – The district will begin serving school meals starting the week of March 30th.   Parents need to sign up to receive lunches for the following week.  The sign-up survey is available on Facebook and on the website.  A new sign-up survey will be posted weekly and must be completed by Wednesday prior to the week when you are requesting school meals.  This helps our cooks with ordering and preparing the right number of meals. Please see our website or call 970-565-5157 for more information.
  • Laptops and access to internet – The district will be sending out a technology needs survey shortly to help us understand what supports parents may need for their students to access the online school including laptops and internet access.  This survey will be available online and parents will receive a call with more information on how to take the survey.  Once we understand your needs, we will be in contact about how to pick up chromebooks and more guidance on how to access internet and the online school learning programs.
  • Starting online school April 6th -  We will officially start online school on April 6th.  This gives our teachers time to plan for supporting our students. Your student’s teacher will be reaching out before then to ensure you and your student understand how to get online and what to expect as we start online school

Our students are the heartbeat of our schools and community and we are missing seeing our students’ faces in our schools.  We are excited to reconnect with our students online beginning April 6th.  We know this will be a new experience for all of us and we are working to make this new way of learning meaningful to your students but we also recognize that parents are juggling many different priorities right now.   Our teachers and staff will be working with you to understand your needs and help answer your questions and provide support so we can move forward together.    You will receive additional communication from your school's principal with more information on these important topics as we move forward.

Thank you and be well,

Lori Haukeness




March 18 - Update

Based on the Governor’s press conference this morning, we have reason to believe that we are looking at an extended closure of our school buildings (this does NOT mean that there will be no school). We are in the planning process for how we will offer ongoing online school and learning opportunities to our students (as well as meals and other supports).   This also means that all sports and extracurricular activities (including prom) are postponed until further notice.  We will post additional updates on Facebook and on the district website as soon as they become available.

We want to thank our parents, students, staff, and community for your flexibility and patience while we work with our community partners and each other to address the COVID-19 virus pandemic that is impacting our world, country, and state.   We hope you all are staying home as much as you can and spending some unexpected time with your families and resting.  Staying home right now helps slow the spread of the virus and can help reduce the future impact in our community and on our health care system.

If you have questions about the COVID-19 virus please contact the Montezuma County Health Department at (970) 564-4799.

District decision to extend spring break - march 16th-march 27th


Issued March 14th by the Montezuma Cortez School District School Board of Education and Superintendent in consultation with Montezuma County Public Health Department
As many of you know, school districts around the country and state are making the difficult decision to close school for an extended spring break in response to the threat posed by the COVID-19 virus. Governor Polis has not yet directed a statewide closure in Colorado. However, the RE-1 Superintendent and school board, in consultation with the Montezuma County Public Health Department, made the decision today to extend spring break and close all schools from March 16th to March 27th, 2020. During that time, essential personnel will receive enhanced training to do the important disinfecting that needs to be done to ensure the buildings are ready for students to return. We will be monitoring this situation daily, at a minimum, and will share any updates or changes to this plan as they become available.

Montezuma County Public Health Department and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment are the best resources for current information about the Coronavirus, and as of the time of this statement, there are no confirmed cases in Montezuma County.

Montezuma-Cortez District leadership will work with Montezuma County Public Health on an ongoing basis to re-evaluate the situation and share any updates about changes as they become available. These updates will be posted on our websites and social media and important information will be communicated directly to parents and staff. Staff and parents will also receive additional communication from Superintendent Haukeness with more information how this extended spring break will impact staff and what supports may be available for families.

We are committed to working together with our community members to protect our friends and neighbors who may be most at risk due to this illness. We are also committed to taking steps as a school district to support our staff, students, and families’ health and safety. As a community, we have always taken care of each other in challenging times and this virus provides an opportunity for us to continue that tradition by following state and local directives and taking personal and community steps to limit the impact of this virus.



District statement on state school closure guidelines  March 13, 2020         


District Statement on COVID-19 and State Directives on School Closure – March 13, 2020

The district is committed to supporting the health and safety of our students, staff, and community.  As of today, March 13, 2020 there are no known cases in our area.  However, we are implementing our COVID plan in collaboration with the county cross-agency emergency coordination team.  As we shared previously, we are implementing enhanced procedures in all our schools right now for disinfecting schools and buses, screening anyone who may be sick and sending them home, educating our staff and students on steps they can take to prevent the spread of colds and flu, and cancelling events, activities, and travel.  We all have a chance to work together to help lessen the impact of COVID on our community.

The district is aware that schools in other parts of our state or country have been ordered to close by Governors or local municipalities based on the presence of known corona virus (COVID-19) cases and/or the health department’s assessment of risk in those areas.  We also recognize the challenges for parents, students, and community in closing schools, so we want to ensure we are making those difficult decisions in our community based on the guidance provided by the state and local health departments. The guidance we received from the Governor’s Office and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment regarding school closure is as follows (full guidance is posted on our website):

Colorado State ordered closure criteria for schools

  • Any school in Colorado with a single confirmed case of COVID-19 in a staff or student will close for a minimum of 72 hours for cleaning and social distancing
  • Any schools that are closed will partner with their local public health agency to conduct contact tracing and further COVID-19 testing.
  • Any school with a second confirmed case of COVID-19 in a staff or student within a 30-day period requires a second minimum 72 closure for cleaning, testing and public health investigation.
  • Any school with 3 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in staff or students within a 30-day period requires a closure for a minimum of 14 days.
  •  If 3 schools in a district have confirmed cases of COVID-19 within a 30-day period, all schools within the district are required to close for a minimum of 14 days for cleaning, testing and public health investigation.

· Other factors to consider when making decisions to close one or more schools, include:

  • Families with students in multiple buildings
  • Shared facilities
  • Shared transportation
  • Central kitchens
  • Shared staff

The state directives for school closure are based on known cases of COVID-19 in a community and school.  As of 5:00pm today (3.13.2020) there are no known cases of COVID in our community, although this may change in the future.  The situation with the COVID virus is evolving and we are in regular communication with the state as well as our local county cross-agency coordination and emergency management team.   We will be reassessing this situation daily, at a minimum, and providing updates regularly on our website and on social media. In the event of a school or district closure all parents will receive a phone call from the district.

Please continue to follow guidance from the local health department to take personal actions to slow the spread of the virus in our state in order to protect the more vulnerable members of our community and our health care workers

Notice of Cancellation of sports, activities, and community events in our schools
March 12, 2020


The district superintendent, in consultation with the board, made the decision today to cancel all sports, sports practices, extracurricular activities (band, theatre, choir, etc), and community events in our facilities for 21 days, effective today, March 12, 2020.  The district leadership did not make this decision lightly, but we feel a responsibility to follow guidance and directives we are receiving regarding reducing the risk of introducing or spreading COVID-19 in our community.  As a district we are committed to working together with our community members to protect our friends and neighbors who may be most at risk due to this illness.  Specifically, we received direction today from the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) that effective at midnight tonight all CHSAA sponsored sports, choir, and band practices, games, and performances are cancelled.   

Furthermore, the county emergency management partners met this morning to provide guidance to organizations in the county regarding public events and the collective recommendation is to cancel all scheduled public events for 21 days.  The statement from the county multi-agency coordination group* is included below:

“Most everyone is aware that there is a new coronavirus spreading in the U.S. This virus causes an illness called COVID19. Everyone can play a part in preventing the spread of COVID19. We recognize that scheduled public events involving personal contact within groups of individuals carries a significant risk of introducing or spreading COVID19 within our community. In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID19, we recommend that holding such events in Montezuma County or attending events elsewhere should be avoided for the next 21 days.  This recommendation will be evaluated regularly as the situation changes.”

We recognize that this is disappointing to so many of our students and their families and we share that disappointment.  We also appreciate everyone working together during this time to help reduce the risk and potential impact of COVID-19 in our community.  If you have any questions about a specific event or activity, please contact your school

*County multi-agency coordination group members: Montezuma County Public Health Department, Southwest Memorial Hospital, Montezuma County, Cortez Integrated Health System Montezuma County Sheriff’s Department, National Park Service, City of Cortez, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Cortez Police Department, Dolores County Public Health, Cortez Fire Protection District, Town of Mancos, Cortez School District RE1, SW Colorado Health Care Coalition, Mancos School District RE6


March 11, 2020


Parents, Staff, and Community Members:

Many of you have all been following the developing news about coronavirus (COVID-19). The Governor’s Office and State Health Department has announced that the state has identified “presumed positive” cases of COVID in Colorado and the Governor’s Office has announced enhanced state efforts to prevent further spread of COVID.  At this time, we are not aware of any presumed positive cases in our area.  However, our safety and health team are working closely with the county, city, and health department and we have updated our emergency plans to include the guidance from the health department.  We will continue to update the plan, if necessary, based on any additional guidance we receive from the health department. 

The District continues to take this health threat very seriously.  The District has a strong plan for responding to outbreaks such as this and we are currently implementing that plan.  Our current actions that we are focusing on between now and spring break include:

Deep sanitization and cleaning – the district custodial staff conducted a deep clean in all of our schools on Friday, March 6th. The district custodial staff will continue to do enhanced sanitization in all buildings on an ongoing basis.

Educating students and staff on how to prevent the spread of colds and flus – our teachers will be providing educational materials to all our students in the next week reminding them to wash their hands regularly, cover their mouths if they cough, etc.  We’ll also be hanging more posters in our schools reminding students to do these things.

Suspending all out of state school-related travel for staff and students – The superintendent has suspended all out of state school-related travel or staff and students until further notice as a precaution.  If your child was scheduled for an out-of-state trip your school will be in touch with more information about rescheduling these trips.  

Sending students and staff who are feeling sick home – the school nurses will continue to screen students with health concerns at school and may ask parents to pick up sick students. The nurses may also ask students to wear a mask, while they are waiting for their parents to pick them up, if the nurse believes a student may have the flu (including regular flu or COVID).  

Setting up a page on our website where parents, staff, and community members can access updates from the district and link to resources from the health department.  Parents and community members can access this webpage by clicking on the link toward the top of the district home page. 

We are also asking that parents do not send your child to school if they may be sick. Keeping your sick child home will be a great benefit for the health and wellness of all students and staff.  We are also asking that staff stay home if they are sick.  We may be asking a few additional questions for students or staff calling in sick as well to help us understand the presence of the flu in our schools and community. Please read the link on “How Sick is Too Sick”. 

The district will share any updates or relevant information with parents and the community as it becomes available.  At this time, we are monitoring the situation but are not aware of any known Corona virus (COVID) cases in or our area.

Please visit the Colorado Department of Health and Environment for more information and please reach out to the Superintendent’s Office with any questions or concerns.

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