Superintendent David Ulrich: Decision to close a Moffat County school not taken lightly
The timeline for the Moffat County School District Board of Education to receive the recommendation regarding an elementary school closure is coming to an end. This decision has not been taken lightly by the board of education.
In the face of trying financial times, previous boards and superintendents have made difficult choices by cutting staff and deferring maintenance. We are taking this step due to a significant reduction in student enrollment during the past 25 years. Since that time, our district enrollment has fallen by nearly one quarter. Yet, as a district, we maintain the same amount of square footage to educate our students. This is evidence that we are not using our resources as efficiently and effectively as possible.
In the spirit of those who have gone before us, our taxpaying public must be assured the district is doing everything it can to be good stewards of our resources. The MCSD Strategic Plan Focus Area IV: Fiscal Management states, “We will ensure the fiscal health of Moffat County Schools.” Goal 2 under Area IV is, “Student needs will be met through efficient facility maintenance and management.”
By taking on this challenge, we will be able to do new, different, and better things for our students.
The board of education meeting at which this information will be shared is Thursday, Dec. 14. The board is aware of the impact this will have on the community and has decided to hold the meeting at the Moffat County Fairground Pavilion. We will begin at 5:30 p.m., and, as with all BOE meetings, it is open to the public.
Throughout the process, the district has been committed to transparent communication. If you have questions about previous information shared with the board of education, visit the district’s website, moffatsd.org. There, you will find a window dedicated exclusively to this topic.
The final decision of whether to accept the recommendation from the Blythe Group will occur during this meeting. If the board approves the recommendation, I will immediately activate a multi-step communication plan that will include staff, parents of the effected schools and all parents of students in the district. Parents of students most directly affected will be invited to a meeting at the school next week. At that meeting, we will review proposed attendance boundaries and answer questions from parents.
Working with the Moffat County Education Association, a teacher redeployment team has been created. The purpose of this team is to ensure a smooth transition of teachers to the remaining schools. As I’ve previously communicated, we do not anticipate letting teachers go involuntarily from the district through this process.
During the past five years, the average number of elementary teacher turnover has been nine, with the lowest number at seven. Our analysis continues to show we will need four or five fewer elementary teachers. While it may not be in the same role, we believe we will be able to retain all our elementary teachers who are in good standing based on the district’s evaluation system.
As a reminder, the Dec. 14 board of education meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. the Moffat County Fairground Pavilion. I am confident, though a difficult choice, this will allow us to live the Moffat County School District’s mission to educate and inspire our students to thrive in an environment of change.
David Ulrich is superintendent of Moffat County School District.