West GarCo 2022 in review: Garfield Re-2 School Board gets things done in 2022 | PostIndependent.com
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West GarCo 2022 in review: Garfield Re-2 School Board gets things done in 2022

Meriya Stickler

Like most school districts across the nation, the year 2022 for the Garfield Re-2 School District actually started in 2021. The year 2021, likewise, actually started in 2020.

In March 2020, COVID-19 of course hit everyone in the jaw like Mike Tyson swinging on a display manikin. School districts were forced to close down school buildings, then reopen, then offer online lessons, then bring kids back in to learn while everyone was masked up.

This abysmal state of affairs stirred up parental discourse like no other at Garfield Re-2. Families for and against COVID-19 regulations spoke and sometimes shouted their pieces during plenty of school board meetings.



Things got so heavy that Re-2 board member Katie Mackley resigned in 2021 due to, in one word, bullying. By early 2022 a group of disgruntled parents started a petition trying to rid the district of board president Meriya Stickler over board decisions regarding the pandemic.

“There was not a moment that anyone didn’t decide that we’re going to bring our kids back, because we knew that was the healthiest place for them,” Stickler told the Citizen Telegram in March. “It wasn’t perfect, but we made the best choice every time we could with the information that was at hand.”



Later in 2022, Stickler announced she was stepping down as board president. A new career opportunity was a major reason behind her decision, she said.

But amid this turmoil came some of the greatest, unprecedented  school board chronological achievements this year:

  • Despite quarantine practices, Garfield Re-2 School District remained open to in-person learning the entire 2021-2022 school year. The district hasn’t skipped a beat since.
  • Universal mask mandates were lifted in February.
  • In early May, raises were implemented to all staff, and the 2022-23 school year started with base salaries for teachers, counselors and academic coaches alone increasing from the former $36,896 to $43,011. Raises to special service providers and classified employees were also given, while adjustments were made to insurance packages.
  • Superintendent Heather Grumley received a $41,000 bump in pay, bringing her in par with neighboring superintendent salaries.
  • Spring 2022 saw about 260 seniors graduate between Coal Ridge and Rifle high schools.
  • Cactus Valley Elementary School in Silt finished a $5.65 million project that replaced its slab and renovated many other areas of ailing structure.

Then you look at all the well-deserved accomplishments notched by the Garfield Re-2 student body during all this brouhaha? The Rifle High School Drama Club went from performing in masks to hosting its first mask-free shows since before the pandemic? Coal Ridge High School cheer finished 2022 with its fifth consecutive state title? A Coal Ridge High School student literally created a new braille system for the entire high school using 3D computer printing technology?

Simply, bravo.

Looking back on it now, 2022 was actually a year of both resilience and perseverance for the Garfield Re-2 School District. And as 2023 sheds itself of the year prior, new challenges rest ahead of the district: picking up grades, offering more bilingual services, ensuring all students eat without having to worry about affording it — the list is as complicated as advanced placement calculus.

But the district, based on its merits this past year, always seems to find a way.


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