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By NIKI TURNER | firstname.lastname@example.org
MEEKER | The new band and choir director at Meeker High School was introduced to the school board Monday.
Randy Adams said, “We were in Indiana three months ago and had no inkling of moving, but this was an awesome opportunity.” He and his wife saw the job posting while on a trip to the Grand Tetons. “This is just a dream,” he said.
The board also heard from new assistant middle school football coach Zach Simpson, who said, “I’m glad you guys will have me and hopefully I can help get them ready for that next level of high school and beyond.”
Superintendent Chris Selle said generally speaking, the school year thus far has been “very positive on all accounts.”
Staff is revising an agreement with BOCES that will affect how the organization interacts with the school districts that will be read at the next meeting.
Student Council is working on some activities for homecoming that will be “appropriate for the environment we’re in.”
When it comes to financing, Selle said the next year or so will be a “bit of a bumpy ride” based on predictions about state funding. “We are fortunate to have really strong reserves we can lean on in the short term.
The board’s longest discussion Tuesday revolved around the plan for spectators as football season gets underway and how best to educate the public about COVID-related requirements set by the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA).
“There are some CHSAA expectations we will do our best to enforce. Some of those our community will not like,” Selle said. The schools will have to set expectations they are willing to enforce, while still meeting CHSAA guidelines.
“Are we going to refuse admittance for non-compliance? And if they don’t comply, are we going to call in law enforcement to have them removed? I don’t have an answer for that right now. I don’t know that I want to call in law enforcement for someone not wearing a mask or social distancing.”
Selle cited a case in Ohio where a woman refused to wear a face mask when asked, then refused to leave school grounds when asked, resisted arrest by the school resource officer, and was eventually Tased and handcuffed.
“There are two ways to look at it,” Selle said. “All of that over a face mask, or all of that over not complying with the school district’s request.”
For Meeker School District, Selle said, “Compliance with the CHSAA expectations will help increase the probability we can continue to offer extracurricular activities for our students.” CHSAA’s requirements are outlined in the following document: https://chsaanow.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/COVID-19-document-3.pdf
The board also touched on two particular ballot issues that will have an impact on school funding. The State of Colorado consistently ranks in the bottom 10 nationwide for funding per pupil, and rural school districts are further impacted by the “negative factor” in receiving funding from the state.
Two ballot measures on the November ballot include a new sales tax on cigarettes and nicotine products and a vote to repeal the Gallagher amendment which limits property tax rates regardless of property values.
The tax on tobacco products would provide three years of funding toward rural schools, and then the funding would shift to preschools. “The Rural Alliance really pushed to get this on the ballot,” Selle said.
Since the Gallagher amendment passed in 1982, residential property values have increased dramatically.
“Every few years residential values have increased, so the assessment rate has to drop every few years,” Selle explained, in order to comply with the Gallagher amendment. That means there’s less residential property tax collected for special districts, including schools.