Board votes to support Amendment 73 for education funding

    Organized last spring as the Great Schools, Thriving Communities campaign, the Colorado ballot initiative that gained enough signatures statewide to get on the Nov. 6 ballot is officially known as Amendment 73.
    Holyoke School District Board of Education approved a resolution of support for the amendment in a 6-1 vote at the Sept. 4 meeting.
    The funding proposal is linked to income taxes. If passed, the amendment will raise corporate taxes and taxes on individuals earning more than $150,000 annually.
    In casting his dissenting vote on the matter, board member Jon Kleve said it was a really hard decision for him to make.
    He pointed out there are a lot of good things in Amendment 73 that he really likes. His concern is for the progressive income tax. “It creates an adversarial system, so I’m opposed, based on that.”
    In its resolution of support, the Re-1J board pointed out that Amendment 73 will bring Colorado’s investment in public education closer to the national average by raising $1.6 billion annually.
    It is touted to stabilize school property taxes, provide additional funding for all students and address the most pressing needs — specifically, funding for full-day kindergarten, significant increase in early childhood program funding, special education programs, at-risk students, English Language Learners, and gifted and talented students.
    Priorities that Holyoke School District will focus on if the amendment passes include: increase district reserve, upgrade vehicle fleet, increase staff and salary, and upgrade security and facilities.
    The district also acknowledges that priorities will evolve as community engagement is an ongoing process, and revenue from Amendment 73 is annual funding.
    Through passage of the resolution, the board authorized the expenditure of district funds to distribute a factual summary regarding the amendment, in accordance with the Fair Campaign Practices Act.
    Board members strategized potential ways to effectively and legally get information to the community to promote the passage of Amendment 73.
    The cost to Holyoke School District from the budget stabilization factor, previously known as the negative factor, is over $5 million since 2011. The average per-pupil revenue loss in the eight-year period is $1,068.63 per year.
    Superintendent Kyle Stumpf said he will continue to update the board on the plan for promoting Amendment 73. He asked that board members share names of people who might be willing to be part of the campaign. And he emphasized that work on this will be done outside of school time.
    In general, they will be looking to have the bulk of the information out by the middle of October due to the mail-in ballot timeline.
Teachers report on application of professional development info
    Third-grade teachers Carly Daniel and Tarah Priddy shared examples of how they’re using the professional development training that was conducted during inservice days prior to the start of school.
    The Indigo training involved activities with regard to social-emotional training, and the two teachers reported that they used get-to-know-each-other activities from the inservice in their classrooms starting right away in the first few days of school.
    Daniel said they take the first 15 minutes each day to “just get acquainted.” She said, among the activities, they talk about famous pillars and how they faced rejection early on but didn’t give up.
    Priddy said personality assessments have proven to be accurate as they promote strengths in students. She added that kids’ attitudes have changed and the training has been a good experience for them.
    Daniel described the “power of yet,” which encourages an “I can’t do it ... yet” approach. Priddy noted that this type of approach to things will help students get through life.
    Daniel said they learned lots of little tips that reaffirm kids in ways they hadn’t thought of. “It’s neat to see how much they encourage each other to not give up,” she added.
    Incorporating a compassion piece into everyday learning, one focus is handwriting. The kids are writing letters to nursing home residents rather than just doing handwriting drills, explained Daniel.
    More Indigo training will be conducted in the district Oct. 1.
Change in board meeting structure contemplated
    Asking for board input on meeting structure, Stumpf cited examples that would do away with the 45-minute work sessions that have typically been scheduled just prior to the start of board meetings for the past several years.
    While the idea for change will return to the Sept. 18 board meeting, in general, members expressed their desire to try a new concept.
    They will be looking at having one meeting a month devoted to business only, and the other meeting during the month to involve any business that needs taken care of, but then to focus on work session topics.
    Stumpf said he likes face-to-face discussion and wants to stay transparent for the comunity. However, he doesn’t want to be repetitive, sharing information in a work session and then repeating it in the official meeting that follows.
Other business
    In other business Sept. 4, the school board:
    — Approved four extra-duty coaching assignments: Corey Koberstein, head HS track, $3,102; Sam Distefano, head HS baseball, $3,102; Chandler Gerk, volunteer HS softball; and Michelle Vieselmeyer, volunteer JH volleyball.
    — Accepted nonresident student applications and transportation requests for Emma Benson and Chloe Benson from the Haxtun school district and Miguel Roberto Vazquez from the Wray district.
    — Discussed assignment of board members to shared leadership committees, as well as getting community leaders involved on these committees.
    — Reviewed changes on Colorado Association of School Board policies involving safe schools, standards-based education, school board member financial disclosure, district personnel performance evaluation council, school board meetings, first-aid training, administering medications to students, first aid and emergency medical care, relations with state agencies, accreditation, superintendent’s conduct, hazardous materials and professional staff development.

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