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RANGELY I The Rangely School Board kicked off Jan. 19 meeting with a performance by the Parkview Elementary School fourth/fifth-grade choir, led by Parkview music teacher Sarah Campbell, setting the mood for some good news, including pay raises for certified staff.
The all-girl group entertained board members, school staff and parents with several Christmas songs.
After the performance, the board went into their regular meeting to discuss pay increases, budget changes and full-day kindergarten. They began by approving the consent agenda, which included hiring Jeff Lebleu as the Rangely Junior High wrestling coach.
Two audience members requested to address the board, the first voicing a desire to see full-day and half-day kindergarten options offered instead of a full-day only program, and the second expressed concerns over budget cuts.
Parent Beth Wiley told the board that she was concerned about the loss of instructional positions saying “people’s livelihoods really matter.”
Wiley also said she’d like to see more art focus in the schools.
The administrative reports began with Mike Krueger, the principal at Parkview Elementary School. Parkview currently has 327 students enrolled and has just started their mid-year MAPS testing. Krueger is also working to wrap up mid-year teacher evaluations.
Rangely Junior/Senior High School Principal Dr. Bryant followed with her report.
Current enrollment at the school sits at 277 students. Bryant told the board that the new Alternative School had six students participating during the first semester. However, several of those students were able to get back on track and switch back to the regular program, leaving only two students in the alternative program.
Superintendent Matt Scoggins provided an update, starting with the potential of a BEST grant. BEST grants are designated for capital projects. Should Rangely’s be granted, Scoggins says the focus will be on the leaking roof at the Early Education Center.
Scoggins updated the board on several state-level issues. The state has decided to allow this year’s 11th-grade students to take the ACT and put off switching to the SAT until next year.
He described the improvement of funding from the state as “bleak,” saying he expects an additional $18 per student next year.
The board was also informed that the junior/senior high is considering a switch next year from a seven-period day to eight periods to facilitate more elective opportunities for students.
Discussion about the impending sunset of the Recreation District Bond partnership was once again heard.
The bond, which provides approximately $300,000 in funding for athletics and activities, will end in May 2017. The board plans to pursue a renewal of the bond in the spring election.
Board President Kurt Douglas said the district needs to make sure the public knows how much the money is needed.
Recreation District Executive Director Tim Webber voiced his support of repeating the bond. However, he also told the board that the district needs to take the fight to the state level and demand funding.
Scoggins echoed the importance of the bond, saying, “Without it, I wouldn’t be able to propose the certified staff pay change tonight.”
Following administrative updates, the board approved several new policies and a revised budget resolution.
The biggest changes to the budget include an unexpected $46,000 insurance cost and a $17,000 increase in transportation costs. The board is considering a staff reduction in the transportation department.
Scoggins added that the district hadn’t received approximately $13,000 from the state to help fund transportation, which is part of the problem. However, the district did receive $12,000 last year from the Moffat County School District to help pay for students who are transported from Dinosaur to Rangely schools, as those students are technically in the Moffat County District.
The board voted to approve a new certified staff salary schedule, which increases the base pay approximately 10 percent, costing the district approximately $200,000. To help offset that cost to the district, the board also voted to require staff to help fund family coverage for their health insurance, which had previously been covered entirely by the district.
A family will now pay $200 per month for the coverage, and Scoggins estimates this will save the district $40,000 per year.
The board also discussed changing the classified staff wage schedule. Scoggins said the current wages are confusing and lack justification. The board will consider action on a changed schedule in a future meeting.
For the first time, all school district policies will be available for viewing online. They can be found under the Board of Education Tab by clicking on the Live Binders link on the district website. Hard copies will also located in the superintendent’s office.
The potential for a full-day kindergarten was a lengthy discussion. The board was informed that first grade is currently having to make up for much of what students are not prepared for.
Skills such as pencil grip and letter sounds are not mastered by the start of first grade for many students, and the board is considering a full-day kindergarten program to try and improve this.
Opinions were strong on both sides, and the board decided to look into it further and consider the possibility of offering both.
Douglas informed the audience that topic will likely be a discussion at every future board meeting until a decision is made, and Scoggins was directed to do some research.
Board member Sam Tolley noted that “There are a lot more questions than answers at this point.”
The board will meet again for a work session on Feb. 2 and a regular meeting on Feb. 16.