CBCS starts school year with fewer students and staff

Continued need for bus drivers in the valley

By Mark Reaman

Monday kicked off the great 2023-24 academic year for the Crested Butte Community School and while numbers are below the peak COVID years, the campus is buzzing with more than 700 students and 87 staff.

Gunnison Watershed School District superintendent Leslie Nichols said the staff is excited for another school year before major construction expansion begins in 2024. “CBCS does fantastic things for kids and families, and we are thrilled for another great year ahead,” she said. “It is a time of kids, connections, curiosity, growth, learning, families and communities.”

While the official school count is registered in October, the first day of school this year recorded 310 students for the CBCS elementary school (CBES) and 405 kids for the secondary school (CBSS) for a total of 715 students. That could change between now and October and is basically flat with 2022-23 figures. Last year enrollment came in at 728 total students, in 2021 it was 755 while the high came with the onset of COVID when CBCS held in-person classes and 793 kids attended the community school.  In 2019, 773 students were officially tallied.

Even with 87 teachers and staff, bus driving positions remain vacant in the North Valley. Nichols said that so far, the district is only running a morning bus route from CB South. The hope is to get a driver to fill in the afternoon shift by November.

As for the other traditionally short staffed area, CBCS has a kitchen manager with the return of Kim Kula. “She has a staff to help her as well,” said Nichols. “We have just hired a new district Nutrition Director as Kristen Osborne resigned at the end of last year. We are in a wait-and-see position as the state’s new free lunches for all program unfolds and we see how our demand increases.”

Nichols said the CBCS building manager position is vacant. “We are contracting out the service for now,” she said. “We have a COVID-money-funded counselor position open at the CB elementary school.

Nichols continued, “We are thrilled that our partnership with Gunnison Valley Health has a clinical therapist placed in both CBSS and CBES. The Town of Crested Butte’s nicotine tax funds both of these positions which is phenomenal.”

Generally, Nichols said everyone is thrilled to be back. “We are excited to welcome new teachers and staff to the CBCS crew,” she said. “Also, to launch our Professional Development Cohorts this year under the umbrella of Universal Design for Learning, to continue to grow and strengthen our learning coach program, to implement the use of new enVision math materials district-wide, to continue implementation of Restorative Practices as the backbone of our school culture and climate, and to get immersed in design work for our bond funded school improvement project.”

Speaking of the school bond… actual site preparation and construction will get underway at CBCS next spring/summer. Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes soils testing, surveying and mechanical system evaluation are already well underway. Design work starts in earnest this week with the first Design Advisory Group orientation meeting. Ground will be turned and the deep dive into construction will begin next spring.

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