MSD board meets, looks at budget

MEEKER I Meeker’s new Board of Education (BOE) met for the first time Nov. 17 as election victors were sworn in and new officers, for two-year terms, were chosen.

Incumbent Tom Allen, Kevin Amack and Davey Smith were each sworn in at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting, solemnly pledging that they would “faithfully perform the duties of the office of school director as required by law and will support the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Colorado, and the laws made pursuant thereto.”
Dr. Robert Dorsett, also elected Nov. 3, was absent as he’s sailing on the Sea of Cortez as part of an educational trip, run by the National Outdoor Leadership School, emphasizing outdoor leadership, science education, wilderness medicine and expedition planning. He was sworn in privately before he left on his trip.
With Dorsett gone, there were only an even number six board members present, resulting in several tie votes in the officer elections. Eventually, Bud Ridings was elected board president, Tom Allen was elected vice president, and out-going president Bill deVergie was elected secretary-treasurer.
In other business, the board approved three additions to school staff with Laurie Simonsen and Michelle Adams as classified/certified substitutes and student Leah Poole as a custodial substitute.
Policy amendments were made regarding the board’s monthly meetings and the procedures for public concerns and complaints.
Also, replacement of the boiler pumps at Barone Middle School (BMS) was approved at a cost of $13,850. Teachers report it’s been a little chilly in the BMS building without the boiler pumps being fully functional.
In his report, Meeker School Superintendent Chris Selle stated that the total head count for the district is now at 708.5 students. Attendance rates are up 1.5 percent to 4 percent across the three schools over last year.
Projections based on the governor’s budget for 2016-17 will increase overall district funding by $56,349, but the negative factor applied by the Legislature will increase from $673,000 to $702,256.
“The result is not enough to meet the costs of inflation and expected student population growth,” Selle said.
On the good news side, Selle reported that Rio Blanco County, through its Discretionary Grant Fund, is providing the $62,400 necessary to complete the district’s project of providing students with Chromebooks (computers).
Meeker Education Foundation President Mary Strang reported that the foundation continues to work on raising funds and submitting grant applications.
Strang was particularly pleased that the foundation had been asked to participate as one of the 10 “trees of appreciation” planned for the Dec. 3 Meeker Parade of Lights. The Foundation’s 2016 fundraising dinner will be held Jan. 31.
The Williams Co. has made a $2,500 donation to the foundation, which Strang said will be part of their effort to help the district with an improved curriculum plan requiring a total of $145,000.
Seven members of the Meeker Cowboys girls’ softball team, along with their coach, Briana Williams, made a special appearance before the board, describing the positive influence the sport had on the students’ discipline and performance in school.
Williams explained what a fantastic season they had. The athletes were Gracie Bradfield, Kenzie Turner, Megan Shelton, Savana May, Abbey Morgan, Taylor Dodds and Sierra Williams.
The girls emphasized the importance of attitude adjustment and bonding with their teammates, including those from the other school districts (the team had players from Craig, Rangely and Steamboat as well as Meeker).
Board member Amack asked Sierra Williams if she had stolen any bases this year. Sierra humbly responded, “A few,” at which point it was revealed she had ended up No. 1 in Colorado in stolen bases this season and No. 5 in the nation. It was further revealed later that Shelton was ranked No. 3 in the nation in catching statistics.