Budget concerns weigh heavily on future of Maybell School at school board meeting | CraigDailyPress.com

Budget concerns weigh heavily on future of Maybell School at school board meeting

School board member Sue Voloshin shares an update with the board Thursday night about Ridgeview Elementary School, including news that fifth-graders Logan Hafey and Kallie Smith were featured on 9News and CBS4 News for Liberty Day at the Capitol in Denver. She also shared that Ridgeview's literacy week was a success, during which the school invited moms, dads and grandparents to read to their kids at school over breakfast treats.

— At its monthly work session and meeting Thursday, the Moffat County School District Board of Education did the following:

• Heard from Zack Allen about ideas gleaned from the Durango School District for a shared school plan, which could potentially create more cooperation between public and alternative educational institutions in Craig. MCSD already has 19 partial enrollment students who take classes part-time in the school district.

• Discussed the future of Maybell School in light of the financial shortfalls the district is currently facing. At least nine students must enroll in order for the school to break even in costs. Ridgeview Elementary School Principal Amber Clark said, to her current knowledge, there are not enough students to consider re-opening it next year.

Clark also said that she did not believe a one-room schoolhouse model worked well in years past for kindergarten through eighth-grade students.

"We tried that model, but it's not sustainable to do with only one teacher. And, parents are not electing to send those (middle-school-age) kids to Maybell School," Clark said. "It's hard for kids in Maybell not to be in extracurriculars, especially at the middle school level."

Board member Sue Voloshin said she felt it was their duty to keep the school open if costs could break even, however fellow member Joel Browning suggested students could receive a better education by attending Craig schools. Reconciling the district's larger budget concerns also raised the question of whether the district should permanently close the school and sell the building.

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• Heard from Joanne Baxter, who drafted a resolution calling for more preschool through 12th-grade education funding from the state to be presented to the Club 20 executive committee for approval. Club 20 is an organization representing Western Slope interests. Baxter and fellow Club 20 member Ray Beck hope the organization will voice its support for increased funding on behalf of Western Slope school districts.

"It's an effort on our part to bring this to a larger regional group to make them understand that school funding is important and we need to fully fund P-12 education," Baxter said.

• Heard from MCSD Director of Curriculum and Assessment Amy Ward that as of yesterday, 27 students had opted out of statewide assessments, the vast majority of them high school juniors. Ward clarified that while, in years past, school districts needed at least 95 percent participation in assessments in order to attain accreditation, that rule could be waived if districts demonstrate due diligence in testing their students.

• Discussed how and when to address the findings of a calendar committee charged with examining alternative school calendar options. Due to time constraints, the board agreed to approve the same calendar currently being used for the 2015-16 school year, and to begin discussing proposed changes next fall to allow ample time for public meetings and input.

• Made plans for a work session from 6:30 to 9 a.m. April 16 to hear presentations from school administrators about programs and curriculum. The board also scheduled a full-day budget retreat for April 30, to be followed by the April school board meeting that was originally scheduled for April 23.

"We will build a stack of ideas and gauge the tolerance of the board members for various options," Superintendent Brent Curtice said. "We and the board need to go deep into the finances so we can understand."

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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