Meeker board OKs $6 million budget

MEEKER I Facing a revenue shortfall of more than $400,000, the Meeker School Board approved a budget of more than $6 million last week.
“In looking at what we projected and where we are, we are going to be short of what our projection was,” said outgoing Superintendent Dan Evig, who is retiring. The June 16 board meeting was his last.
The primary reason for the shortfall is revenue is down from the state. The district faces a $438,000 deficit. The administration will present a recommendation to the board to resolve the revenue issue.
Evig discussed options available to the administrative team. One option is to eliminate teaching or staff positions. Another option is to pull funds from the capital reserve.
Speaking of the administrative team, Evig said, “I trust their judgment.”
The revenue issue should change significantly once the district receives the Mineral Lease and PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) funding. The preliminary budget is a work in progress, until the official deadline in October.
In other business, the board approved a new reduced rate for summer transportation. A school-sponsored group can travel in a small vehicle at $1 per mile, and in a bus at $1.50 per mile, plus driver costs. The reduced rate may be used up to a total of 700 miles. Anything above this ceiling will be at a higher rate.
An addendum to a Colorado Department of Local Affairs grant was submitted to assist with funding of a new road to replace the existing Ute Road. The original proposal, which was endorsed by the town of Meeker, Rio Blanco County and the Eastern Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District was intended to improve the existing Ute Road. After an extensive traffic study was completed by the town of Meeker, it was determined a new road be constructed, almost doubling the original cost projection.
Other business items included the approval of a journalism course that will be offered as an English elective to all four grades at the high school. English teacher Kathleen Sullivan Kelley presented a “highly disciplined program” that will split the responsibility of a newspaper among the students.
Also approved was a policy requiring healthy beverages offered for sale to students, which will be in compliance with the state Board of Education’s nutritional standards.
New hires for the district include: Roger Barnes, bus driver; Angela Urenda, consumer and family studies teacher; and Meg Pfau, half-time business teacher. Pfau is the wife of new Superintendent Doug Pfau and previously taught technology at Grand Valley High School in Parachute.
In Evig’s last board meeting before retirement he wanted to “publicly thank everyone on the board, principals … I have truly, truly enjoyed it and know that the kids will be well served in the future. It’s just been awesome and I really appreciate it.”
Doug Pfau, who had been the superintendent at De Beque, will begin his new duties June 29.