Jo Ann Baxter sits in the chair she has occupied for six years as a member of the Moffat County School Board. Last month, she received the McGuffey Award from the Colorado Association of School Boards for her service.

Photo by Nicole Inglis

Jo Ann Baxter sits in the chair she has occupied for six years as a member of the Moffat County School Board. Last month, she received the McGuffey Award from the Colorado Association of School Boards for her service.

Board member honored for service

Jo Ann Baxter receives award at regional conference

Other action

At its Thursday meeting, the Moffat County School Board:

• Approved, 6-0, a first reading of policy 1511, parent involvement

• Approved, 6-0, a first reading of policy 5264, weapons in schools

Among talk of current and future budget cuts, there was a bright spot for the Moffat County School Board at its monthly meeting Thursday.

At an annual conference of the Colorado Association of School Boards in Steamboat Springs last month, board member Jo Ann Baxter was honored as the recipient of the McGuffey Award.

Every year, each region of CASB presents the award to a board member who has committed years of impassioned service to his or her school board.

The Moffat County School Board knew that person was Baxter, and the CASB agreed.

Superintendent Joe Petrone, who has been with the school district since June, recognized her achievement at the meeting.

"We're delighted to have her depth and strength of experience," he said. "She continues to amaze us with her knowledge.

Before her six-year tenure on the School Board began, Baxter was a teacher and a leader.

She taught government at Moffat County High School for 29 years, during which she lead the teacher's union, the Moffat County Education Association, and served on the board at the Colorado Education Association.

When she retired, friends encouraged her to run for a seat on the School Board.

"It's been a really good way to give back," Baxter said. "It's a way I can stay involved and be of service."

She said she was honored to have received the award for her service, but she knows that there is still a long road ahead for education legislators, administrators, faculty and students around the state.

Aside from receiving the award, Baxter attended seminars and conferences, many of which were centered on the current state of the budget in Colorado.

"It's not a very rosy picture for Colorado right now," she said. "Since schools get about 43 percent of the entire budget, we'll be a natural target for some of these cuts."

For Baxter, it's difficult to see her years of work defending public school funding slipping away.

Baxter, along with former superintendent Pete Bergmann, former assistant superintendent Joel Sheridan and state Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, worked hard during the past several years to stabilize funding for low-income schools across the state.

She helped spearhead the campaign to stabilize property taxes, which affected the schools.

But at the CASB conference, there was talk of per-pupil funding declining by as much as 8 percent.

"We have to do more with less," she said. "But we've been doing it for so long, I just don't know what else we can do. It's not going to be fun."

She said it worried her that some of the cuts might fall on the faculty and staff.

"It brings tears to my eyes to think they will have to bear that," she said. "We're really at the bare bones."

Despite the doom and gloom she heard at the conference, she said it was nice to know she had the support of the School Board, who nominated her for the award.

Board member Trish Snyder, who was elected the same year as Baxter, said the board was fortunate to have someone as knowledgeable as Baxter.

"She's a political geek," Snyder said. "She's the first one to admit that she loves it. That's been a huge benefit to the board. It was very deserved."

However, Baxter knew the McGuffey Award is nowhere near the end of the road.

"I still have two more years to see what we can do," she said.

Nicole Inglis can be reached at 875-1793, or ninglis@craigdailypress.com.

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