Moffat County school board discusses budget draft, board district changes | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County school board discusses budget draft, board district changes

Moffat County School District retirees were honored at the monthly Board of Education meeting Thursday with a retirement celebration. Left to right: Cheryl Arnett, Robin Weible, Linda Brookshire, Phyllis Reed, Tammi Whitaker and Ann Charchalis. Retirees not pictured: Bill Ronis, Karen Simon, Terri Winey and Maxine Monger.

— The Moffat County Board of Education discussed the 2015-16 budget at their monthly meeting Thursday and considered big decisions for the coming school year, including changes to the preschool programming, school calendar, Maybell School and redrawing Board of Education boundaries.

Budget concerns elevated the discussion when the board debated the district's fiscal situation.

Board member Darrell Camilletti highlighted a financial report he compiled based on budgets and numbers presented from past meetings. Camilletti expressed particular concern about the projected deficit in coming years and the spending choices the board is currently making for items such as iPads in the district.

"Why are we committing or proposing to commit to spending now, hoping that a mill levy override is going to pass? It would be like me going and buying a house hoping that I can borrow the money to pay for it," Camilletti said.

He also felt that many of the budget numbers presented were inaccurate or misleading. A heated exchange ensued between Camilletti and board member Tony Peroulis, who called for the board to work collectively to understand the budget.

"We have to go about this positively and we need to present the facts. The public is the one that needs to decide what they want their education to look like," Peroulis said.

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MCSD Finance Director Tinneal Gerber presented the budget to the board. Notable numbers in the budget included:

— A decrease in the Full Time Equivalent count, a version of the student count, by 53.2 down to 2,091.3

— 81 percent of expenditures in the 2015-16 budget are for staff salaries and benefits

— Elementary schools will have $145 per student to spend on school supplies, textbooks, field trip travel and other classroom costs; Craig Middle School will have $150 per student and Moffat County High School will have $200 per student

— Athletic funding was reduced by $25,000, from $80,000 for the current school year to $55,000 for the 2015-16 school year

— If certain expenditures, such as for technology, are approved, the school district would be drawing approximately $1.2 million out of reserves to fund the district next year.

The Moffat County Board of Education also did the following:

• Passed a resolution to pose a ballot question to voters in November to change the current seven districts from which school board members are elected to four districts with three members at-large. The four districts would be drawn based on the four elementary school catchment areas, which already represent fairly equal population sizes.

The board initially considered scrapping districts altogether to have only at-large members, as well as turning the seven-person board into a five-person board.

"I think there is value in having geographic representation," board member KC Hume said. "I've had numerous conversations that started off with someone saying, 'You're my guy.' I'm the representative for their district. I think the combo works well."

• Heard from preschool director Stephanie Davis, who announced changes to Moffat County School District's preschool program next year.

The program will now offer full-day preschool at each elementary school, with double classrooms at East and Sandrock elementary schools. Ridgeview and Sunset elementary schools will accept only full-day 4-year-olds, while East, Sandrock and the Early Childhood Center will accommodate 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds for full- or half-day programs.

• Discussed Maybell School, which does not have enough students in its catchment area for a second year in a row for the school to open and break even financially next year. The school is considered suspended for now, but the board discussed whether to permanently close the school and sell or give the building to a county or community entity for community use. The issue will be further discussed at the next public meeting June 4.

• Discussed preliminary options for redesigning the school calendar as presented by calendar committee members Joel Browning and Hume.

• Heard a report from Sunset Elementary School Principal and retiring teacher Cheryl Arnett about the Envisions program for gifted and talented students, with presentations from two now-third-graders about their party-planning projects. The program is designed to encourage independent, creative, critical thinking among students.

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

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