Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — Parents of gifted and talented students expressed concern about the district’s program spending and implementation at the Alamosa Board of Education meeting Monday night.
During the items form the audience regarding agenda items segment of the meeting, six parents told the BOE they were unsatisfied with the district’s efforts to meet their children’s needs. They specifically drew attention to the program’s budget, questioning thousands of dollars in unspent monies.
“It is incredibly frustrating and distressing,” said Melissa Freeman, the parent of an Ortega Middle School (OMS) gifted and talented student. “I think it is time the district holds this program accountable.”
According to Freeman and the other parents, the ASD returned around $7,000 of gifted and talented funding to the San Luis Valley Board of Cooperative Education Services, the governing body for the area school districts. In 2010, the district was provided with $17,000 for the program and returned $3,000 at the end of the year. In 2011, the district was provided with the same amount, but returned $4,000. The parents also claimed the district allocated 2011 gifted and talented dollars for an Alamosa High School knowledge bowl trip to Washington D.C.
“Some of us are a little concerned,” said gifted and talented parent David Daboll. “We are not a group of whiny parents, but a group of parents that have done their homework. Our kids like going to school and like being challenged. They deserve a school system that is holding itself to the highest of standards.”
This year, the district was awarded $18,117 for the program, which is 14.8 percent of the Valley’s total state allotment of $130,599. According to the parents, their children did not begin gifted and talented programs until this month and the 2012 funding has not yet been budgeted.
“We are asking you and challenging you to take this up and make it correct,” Daboll said. “They need to start on day one.”
Gifted and talented parent Christine Jones-Daboll said the concerned parents contacted ASD assistant superintendent and gifted and talented coordinator Mark Meyer on Sept. 17 via a letter stating the aforementioned concerns. She said she was told the district was unable to fill gifted and talented positions and that there was not a budget in place.
“Gifted and talented should not be just added on, but an integral part of planning” Jones-Daboll said.
Myer was present at the meeting, but since the matter was not an agenda item, he did not participate in the discussion. When contacted via email about the district’s gifted and talented program status on Thursday, he did not reply before press time.
ABOE officer Keith Vance, who has three gifted and talented children, did take a moment to respond after the meeting segment came to a close.
“Some years the gifted and talented program has been great and some years it has been lacking,” Vance said. “It is tough to get a gifted and talented program with the minimal funding that we have, but that is not an excuse. It is a sin for a kid to be bored. We are going to make an effort with this. Alamosa should have the best gifted and talented program in the Valley because this is the best school district.”
The ASD defines gifted and talented students “as persons between the ages of 5 and 21 whose abilities, talents and potential for accomplishment are so outstanding that they require special provisions to meet their educational needs,” according to the ASD Gifted Education Guidelines for Referral and Identification. The students must show exceptional abilities in any combination of these areas: general intellectual ability; specific academic aptitude; creative, productive thinking; leadership abilities and visual arts, performing arts, musical or psychomotor abilities.