Rangely School Board considers accessing RSD savings account

RANGELY I With the school year winding down, the Rangely School Board met April 21 to discuss several issues of potential impact on the 2015-2016 school year, including vacated teacher positions, grade point average (GPA) calculations, alternative school options and budget considerations.

Superintendent Matt Scoggins had mixed news for the board in regard to next year’s budget. He said the current proposal from the state is to increase funding by 2.8 percent for public schools. In Rangely, this would amount to an additional $104,000.
Scoggins suggested the board consider giving 2 percentage points of the total 2.8 percent increase as a raise in salaries and that the remaining 0.8 percentage points go towards the district’s Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) contribution.
Scoggins set the tone for future budget discussions, telling the board, “I don’t want to approach (the budget) and say we have to have a perfectly balanced budget next year. I’m very comfortable dipping into our fund balance.”
However despite his ease with spending into savings, Scoggins told the board that he was considering several cuts, including reducing a preschool and a kindergarten position, both of which could be accomplished through attrition.
Board member Joyce Key asked that the district consider using split classrooms, where one classroom has multiple grade levels, as another way to keep class sizes small without adding staff. “Statistically it has had some positive impacts,” Key said.
Another impact on the budget is a potential increase in health insurance costs. In an attempt to mitigate the cost, the district is considering a switch in providers, which, according to Scoggins, could save the district approximately $80,000 next year.
Currently, the district has six positions, five at Parkview Elementary and one at Rangely Junior/Senior High that are open for the coming school year. In order to fill these positions administrators have been attending job fairs to recruit applicants, although, according to Scoggins, recruiting can be tough.
“It’s hard to get people to talk to Rangely because they don’t know where it is,” he said.
Rangely Junior/Senior High Principal K.D. Bryant fielded questions from the board regarding the development of a new alternative school program. The program, currently titled R-4, takes place in a room in the high school and has students from the high school and middle school in attendance. Students participate in an online program and are overseen by a para-professional.
The program offers a flexible start time for students who struggle to begin school on time. Principal Bryant describes the program as “for the few, not the many.” He is currently seeking a new name for the program, expressing concern about calling it an alternative or at-risk school.
“When I say you are at-risk, it doesn’t feel very good,” Bryant said.
The board reviewed a draft policy of potential district changes to the way GPAs are calculated. The district is considering weighting student GPA’s to give more preference to college and advanced placement (AP) courses. If approved, the new policy would allow students taking college-level courses or who take an AP class and receive a score of three or higher on the AP test to receive a score of five for an A grade instead of the traditional four. To qualify, college courses must be in one of the core subjects such as English, math or science.
There will be an appeal process if a student would like to have another course considered. The goal is to encourage students to take challenging courses without fear of damage to their GPA.
After a short executive session, the board voted unanimously to approve the contracts of all district administrators, including Superintendent Matt Scoggins, Parkview Elementary Principal Mike Kruger, Junior/Senior High Principal K.D. Bryant and Assistant Principal Crandal Mergelman.
The Rangely School Board will meet again at 6 p.m. on May 19 to further discuss next year’s budget and end-of-year items.