Rangely schools to focus on budget; raises possible

RANGELY I As the first semester of school comes to a close, Rangely School District is preparing for budget talks and finalizing policy changes and behavioral program implementations for the schools in 2016.

The district will be kicking off the new year with budget talks starting in January. With the recent mill levy override election loss, Superintendent Matt Scoggins expects that the district will be forced to dip into savings in the coming years. However, he adds that in the last two years the district has been able to add approximately $900,000 into its savings funds, and he says he’s comfortable with now using that money.
Scoggins also expressed gratitude for the budget savings impact of the joint mill levy effort with the Western Rio Blanco Recreation District, which he says saved the school district $172,000 last year. He plans to put that money towards salaries.
“Without that (Rec District Mill Levy) and the Rangely Schools Foundation, things would be bleak around here,” Scoggins said.
One key player in the budget will be the change in salary schedule for certified staff, including teachers and administrators. The major changes include an increase by $3,000 in base pay as well as increasing the compensation for teachers with master’s degrees.
“We pay way below other districts in master’s level teachers,” Scoggins said. He is hopeful the increase will encourage teachers to up their education level and attain these degrees, which would then allow them to teach college level courses at the high school.
Scoggins said that offering as many on-campus college credit courses as possible has been a major school board priority. In all, the salary schedule changes are expected to cost the district $140,000 per year.
For the last several years, district policy revisions have been a staple at board meetings as both the superintendent’s office and school board have worked at updating the policies. According to Scoggins, they should finally conclude this process in February.
The board and district began tackling the daunting process by making sure all legally required policies are in place. They then made revisions where needed and removed old policies that were no longer needed. Policies will still need regular updating as laws and best practices change, however, these changes should be minimal after the complete overhaul the board has slowly worked on is complete.
As the new semester kicks off, both schools are expecting to work on improving a variety of student behaviors.
Parkview Elementary School plans to begin implementation of a PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports) system.
Rangely Junior Senior High is placing its emphasis on truancy, and that emphasis will begin by more actively notifying parents of truant behavior.
“We want to help kids make wise decisions,” Scoggins said.
The new semester begins Jan. 4, followed by the first school board meeting of 2016 on Jan. 5.