Meeker schools earn accreditation with distinction for second year in a row

MEEKER | The Meeker School District (MSD) began this school year with a July 1 unaudited fund balance of $4.285 million compared to $4.7 million last year. This figure reveals an intentional partial spend-down of the MSD reserve, but not as much as expected as the Board of Education (board) oversaw less spending and some slightly higher than expected revenues. MSD Superintendent Chris Selle points out that this is a good problem to have. The 2017-2018 school district approved budget totals $7,165,414.
At the current rate of deficit spending (whittling down the reserve), Selle told the board that it looks like the district will be able to operate without new revenue sources until at least the 2021-2022 school year. This projection does not include the possibility of any major capital improvement or construction. To that end, the next advisory and public master facilities planning meetings will be Sept. 6 (advisory group at 4 p.m. and the public at 6 p.m.) with reporting from the district’s consultant, Bennett Wagner Grody Architects. These meetings are scheduled to be held in the high school cafeteria.
The projected student headcount for this year was 738 compared to a beginning 743 headcount last year and a 705 headcount the year before. At the Aug. 15 board meeting, high school Principal Amy Chinn declared her building “clean and ready to go.” She invited parents and the public to visit anytime.
Last May the board approved a list of 20 teacher substitutes and 27 classified substitutes for the 2017-2018 school year. Over the summer, the board has approved a few new teachers, staff and coaching personnel including Greg Cravens as both the high school volleyball coach and paraprofessional interventionist at Barone Middle School and Rebekah Cravens as both a Meeker Elementary School (MES) paraprofessional and BMS volleyball co-coach. Michelle Selle is the other BMS volleyball co-coach.
Other coaching staff approved are Matt Dupire, volunteer MHS football; Caleb Newkirk, volunteer cross-country; Jason Browning, BMS head football; Clinton Kilduff, BMS assistant football; Nick Smith, volunteer BMS assistant football, Kyle Ackes, assistant MHS volleyball; and Samantha Wilson, assistant MHS softball. According to BMS principal Jim Hanks, the middle school still has an opening for a basketball coach.
Teachers approved include Briana Williams, sixth grade, and Maria Beckington, MHS Spanish. Additional certified and classified substitutes approved include Andrea Gianinetti, Angela Follman, Deborah Rams and Patrick Walsh. Abbie Powell has also been approved as a custodial substitute. Kim Gould and Annie Ellis have been approved as additions to the food services team.
Over the summer, the board accepted resignations from J’Leah Richardson, food services, and Keely Winger, assistant BMS volleyball coach. Janet Kendall never accepted her approval for food services.
On policy matters, the board gave third and final approval Aug. 15 to policies covering school wellness, food services including free and reduced-price meals, the use of school vehicles by community groups and the cooperative educational programs (BOCES).
Policies considered on first reading Aug. 15, projected to be finalized at the board’s regular Oct. 17 meeting, included safe schools, accident reports, school closings and cancellations, security and access to buildings, video and audio monitoring, placement of audio-visual monitoring, use of video cameras on transportation vehicles, staff conduct and responsibilities, school year calendar and instruction time, open enrollment, violent and aggressive behavior, secret societies and gang activity, drug and alcohol involvement by students, student discipline, suspension and expulsion procedures, use of cell phone and other personal technology, use of physical restraint and intervention, and student fees, fines and charges.
Selle is recommending current board policies regarding buildings and ground management, bus scheduling and routing, school personnel liability and protection, and staff training for crisis prevention and management be dropped as they address administrative management functions.
Selle announced that MSD student learning growth data from the partnership for assessment of readiness for college and careers (PARCC) state tests in English language, literacy and mathematics given this last spring were excellent with Meeker being at or above the 50th percentile on 10 of 11 tests. On the 11th test, district students were only one percentile below the 50th percentile. Regarding PARCC general academic achievement, Selle reported that MSD results for this last school year were phenomenal. The percentage of Meeker students scoring in the “meets” or “exceeds” categories was greater than the state average on 19 of 20 tests. For that 20th test, district students were only two percentile down. Selle said, “These are the best results for the MSD since at least 2009. While student learning (not test scores), per se, is our priority, high levels of learning generally produce high test scores. Our entire community should take great pride in these results.”
Selle told the Herald Times that he just learned this week that the district, for the second year in a row, has been awarded “Accreditation with Distinction” indicating the district ranks in the top 12 percent of schools in the state. The related evaluation, carried out by the Colorado Department of Education, rates financial, safety, and testing administration parameters in addition to academic achievement, growth, post-secondary and workforce readiness.
With regard to the school board elections happening on Nov. 7, the district administration reports that nominating petitions have been turned in by five individuals for the four available seats. All have yet to sign their candidate acceptance (confirmation) form, but it appears there will be a contest. Nominating petitions had to be returned to the school administration by today.
The next school board meeting is a work session, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 7 p.m., at the administration building.