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School finance in better shape for 2014-15 for Colo. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brenda Johnson Brandt   

While specific numbers hadn’t been computed, Superintendent Bret Miles was pleased to report at the Tuesday, May 6, Holyoke School Board meeting that a school finance act was approved by the State Legislature that day.

He anticipated getting a worksheet within a couple of days of the meeting and having actual dollar figures to assist in moving forward with local budget preparation.

In general, Miles said it’s a better year than the district has seen in the past five.

The board approved budget parameters at last week’s meeting. Miles confirmed that the new school finance act will definitely allow the district to avoid using reserve funds to balance the budget.

Additionally, they will be able to fund the salary schedule steps, the increased Public Employees’ Retirement Association employer contribution and the rising cost of health insurance for the employee.

After covering those expenses, there will still be some money left over. Miles estimated this could be approximately $60,000, and several options will be prepared for the board to consider at its May 20 meeting.

Considerations for use of the leftover funds could fall in three areas: hold to rebuild the reserve, restore equipment/supplies or put the funds into personnel.

Miles pointed out that the personnel piece could be targeted for additional staff or for additional compensation for existing personnel.

Textbook replacement returned to the equipment/supplies consideration. Miles said they won’t be looking to purchase textbooks until the end of next year, moving through two years of the state curriculum directive.

It was emphasized that it’s important to get textbook purchasing back into the schedule, but the plan is to wait for the 2015-16 school year.

Questions were asked about the impact that potential use of 1-to-1 devices would have on textbook purchases. With the technology committee recommending that the 1-to-1 device purchase be put on hold, that isn’t a consideration at this point.

However, it was noted that “cloud” storage can be used for textbook info and that chapters can be purchased as opposed to whole books. Internet access was a concern addressed for this type of textbook use.

Asked about the potential of going with other area districts to get more buying power in textbook purchases, Miles said there’s been conversation but no serious discussion on what a materials adoption process would look like.

Miles emphasized that it’s a really good decision to have a plan to rebuild the reserve, it’s a really good decision to put additional moneys into compensation and it’s a really good decision to put the funds into building and materials.

He said there was great discussion with the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee May 5 and he looks forward to good board discussion on the options at the next meeting.


BEST grant to fund office/entry remodels at both schools

To heighten security, front office and entry areas at both Holyoke Elementary and Holyoke JR/SR High will see some revisions this summer with financing from Building Excellent Schools Today funds.

Miles said the $100,000 project will involve $44,000 in district funds, with the rest coming from the BEST grant.

At the JR/SR High, the main office wall will be opened up to give better visibility of the front door. In another security measure, several key doors will be able to be locked quickly from the office if needed.

All outside entrance doors at both schools are locked and have been for some time, said Miles.

At the elementary school, some office remodeling is planned, and those entering the second set of main doors in the front entrance will need to get buzzed in to open them.

Miles emphasized that they’re not purporting to solve all potential problems, they’re not creating a fail-safe system—they’re doing the best they can for a safe place.

The grant moneys are targeting the most-used entrances and likely entrances of the school. They’re looking at visibility to the front and a second level of limiting access.

New schools are being designed with these security measures in mind, Miles pointed out, but schools the age of those in Holyoke were not.


Backpack program has successful first year

Summer Maloney and Allie Balog gave a year-end review of the backpack program which was implemented in the district last November.

The program provides two breakfasts, two lunches, two snacks and a fruit or vegetable for a student for the weekend. Currently, a backpack is provided for 115 preschool-12th-grade students each weekend.

The two organizers reported that 28 students volunteer each month to pick up bags at the elementary, pack and deliver the bags, take inventory of food and unload food after picking it up. While this is a project of the HS and JH Student Councils, students outside the councils offer to help as they see the need.

Funding came from last year’s Penny Harvest, a bake sale, food drive during TCAP testing week, and through generous donations from community members, businesses and parents.

This summer, on July 26, a 5K color run is planned in an effort to raise funds for the 2014-15 backpack program. Over the course of a school year, the backpack program costs about $9,300, so the fundraising is significant.

Balog and Maloney acknowledged that the program has been a lot of work but is definitely rewarding.


Contracts/employee recommendations made

In personnel action at last week’s meeting, the school board approved 2014-15 probationary and non-probationary teacher renewals, as well as notice of employment for classified employees.

Board members commented on the quality of staff in the district and commented on the stability with the long-term employees.

Probationary teacher renewals were approved for first-year teachers Tressa Amann, Havilah Andersen, Cynthia Bahler, Clayton Christensen, Abby Einspahr, Kortney Firme and Nancy Miles; second-year teachers Nicole Churchwell, Carly Daniel, Cutter Garrison, Wendy Grothman, Sharon Jones, Mitsuko Martinez, Tarah Priddy and John Zilla; and third-year teachers Alexandra Balog, Nicolas Balog, Maury Kramer and Karen Ortner.

Contracts for 2014-15 were approved for the following non-probationary teachers:

John Baumgartner, Cindi Beavers, Yesenia Bencomo, Kimberlee Bennett, Stefan Betley, Heather Bieber, Ashley Clayton, Marcia Dalton, Scott Dille, Kerri Gardner, Andrea Kammer, Natalie Krogmeier, Laura Loutensock, Christina Martinez, Chandra Parker, Kristie Pelle, Angela Powell, Sandra Rahe, Crystal Rigel, Kari Sandquist, Lynn Schnei­der, Rhonda Smith, Theresa Tharp and Luke Thomas.

Classified staff recommended for employment in 2014-15 include secretaries Tancy King, Brenda Krueger and Lori Thompson; HR/payroll clerk, Joan Price; budget and finance director, Sharon Thompson.

District technology coordinator, Perry Ingram; maintenance/repair, Stan Kreider; grounds, Dusty McConnell.

Custodians Darcy Garrison, Jack Garrison, Elva Montes, Guadalupe Montes and Albino Nuñez; transportation, Robert Jacobs, Mark Groshans, Fletcher Hinck, Dave Johnson, Helen Miller, Scott Murray and Kimberly Young.

Paraprofessionals Terri Biersdorfer, Tracey Cordova, Karla Cruz, Natali Goytia, Melisa Hunter, Aydaly Juarez, Tina McNulty, Veronica Nuñez, Leticia Penzing, Nancy Pillard, Christy Shafer and Jason Wendling.


Other business

In other business May 6, the board:

—accepted the resignation of HS and JH cheer coach Jane Zink, who will be relocating outside the school district.

—approved performance plans for Holyoke JR/SR High and Holyoke Elementary and a unified improvement plan for the school district as presented at the April 8 board meeting.

—reviewed policy change suggestions from Colorado Association of School Boards, most of which are minor wording revisions. A closer look will be given to a policy on stocking epinephrine for allergy attacks and one on open records requests.

Holyoke Enterprise May 15, 2014