Rangely School Board talks salaries and budgets, comes up $111,000 short

RANGELY I The Rangely School Board discussed the 2015/2016 school year budget on May 19, quickly approving participation in the November election and discussing the hiring process for potential employees in the coming school year.

“It’s tough out there right now,” Superintendent Matt Scoggins said when preparing the board for a discussion about the budget for the coming school year. The discussion included information and questions about the benefits package offered to staff.
Board member Sam Tolley pointed out that because wages and benefits make up roughly 83 percent of the total budget they are always an important factor.
Scoggins informed the board that the district is expecting an additional 2.8 percent in funding from the state, which will come from funds earmarked for rural schools. In Rangely this will equate to a $140,000 increase.
Of the 2.8 percent increase, the board voted to designate 2 percent to staff salary increases and the additional .8 percent towards PERA (Public Employees Retirement Association) accounts.
With this additional funding, Scoggins and District Finance Director Steve Kraft presented a total budget with projected revenues of $5,535,153 and expenditures/transfers of $5,647,132.92.
“That leaves us a shortfall of $111,979.92,” Scoggins said Thursday. “That $111,979.92 will come from reserves.”
At the meeting, Kraft also encouraged the board to think about presenting ballot initiatives for a mill levy override and a continuation of the Designated Grant Fund, a joint effort for funding athletics and activities through the Western Rio Blanco County Recreation and Park District.
“We need to consider one or both from my chair,” Kraft said.
The Designated Grant Fund is currently ending its third of five years of funding. Both tax increases would need to be approved by voters.
“We start from a conservative budget point and go from there,” Scoggins said. “Just because the money is there doesn’t mean we have to spend it, and sometimes unforeseen things come up, typically in maintenance.”
The board expects to vote on the budget at its next meeting.
As of November, three board member seats will be open for election.
Board President Leslie Nielsen, Vice President Kurt Douglas and Director Joyce Key will all have completed their first terms on the board. While Nielsen says she will seek re-election this fall, Douglas and Key say they are unsure. Douglas and Nielsen will have served four years while Key was appointed to the board in November 2014.
Parkview Elementary School Principal Mike Krueger told the board he has several candidates for teaching positions he has interviewed and he feels confident they will be a good fit for Rangely. However, despite making progress with a few positions, Krueger expressed concern that there are many candidates he has spoken with that after several conversations have declined jobs for numerous reasons, including location and pay scale.
Rangely Junior/Senior High School Principal K.D. Bryant expressed similar thoughts, saying that she is currently completing the process of hiring teachers including a position in the language arts department, which Bryant feels needs an experienced teacher. Bryant seemed encouraged by the interviews she has held thus far.
Both principals have taken advantage of available technology to help make the interview process easier by speaking with potential candidates via Skype.
Scoggins took time during the meeting to recognize Junior/Senior High Vice Principal Crandal Mergelman for his work providing more than 150 pounds of meat for a track team dinner and volunteers at a track meet. Scoggins said Mergelman prepared the food on his own time, going above and beyond for the community.
The Rangely School Board will meet again June 16 to vote on next year’s budget.