Moffat County Board of Education approves budget | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County Board of Education approves budget

Board, district staff members acknowledge the difficulty of cuts

Michael Neary







— The Moffat County Board of Education unanimously approved a general fund budget of $19.8 million in the coming school year, with deficit spending of $212,000.

"If we would have sustained everything and just had a status quo budget, it would have cost us about $450,000 that we didn't have," said Morris Ververs, acting as interim superintendent, during a public hearing in the Moffat County School District Administrative Building that was followed by a work session and a board meeting.

Last month, after meeting with administrators, Ververs presented a preliminary budget to the school board. The board unanimously accepted the proposal — though not, at the time, as a final budget.

The administrators who met with Ververs included school principals, along with the directors of transportation, food services, maintenance and other departments. Last month Ververs said the group, which met for two days, wanted to balance the budget if possible. He noted a second goal.

"We wanted to absolutely minimize the impact on the education of children," he said.

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After the school board accepted the preliminary recommendation last month, the district's elementary administrative team, with district office personnel, made the decision to apply a recommended reduction of two full-time teaching equivalencies to Sandrock and East Elementary schools, explained Ridgeview Elementary School Principal Amber Clark.

Clark described the choice of schools and grades as agonizing.

"We landed on first and second grades, due to class sizes," Clark said Thursday night. "It was one of the toughest things we have ever had to do."

During Thursday's public hearing, several staff members noted concern about cutting two full-time teaching positions at the schools.

"We have amazing first-and-second-grade teachers, but no one can do an amazing job of teaching 24 students who are at two different grade levels," said Rebecca Kuberry, literacy coordinator at Sandrock Elementary School.

In devising the budget proposal, Ververs and the administrators also considered the possibility of eliminating six full-time equivalencies in classified staff, including medical staff, "as a possible way to deal with the deficit spending," Ververs said Thursday.

Karie Fisher, registered nurse for the school district, and Karra Juergens, health technician at Ridgeview Elementary School, noted strong concern, during the public forum, with the cutting of classified staff members, including health technicians.

Fisher noted a host of medical conditions that health technicians encounter, including epilepsy, allergic reactions and diabetes.

"These things are not absorbed," she said. "This takes a high amount of training."

Juergens said she had 2,317 visits to her health office this past school year, noting that the children needed special attention.

"It's not just a Band-Aid and an ice pack," she said.

Board Member Jo Ann Baxter acknowledged the difficulties of the cuts.

"I hate the fact that we might have to be giving up some health techs," she said to the gathering. But earlier she also noted: "We have declining enrollment. That means we can't keep the same staff numbers we've always had."

Ververs also acknowledged the budget's difficulties.

"Everything has impact on kids, absolutely everything," he said after the meeting. "There was no way that we could come up with a program that didn't have consequence."

Ververs noted that alterations to the budget could still be made through this coming fall.

The board also approved, on Thursday, the contract of David Ulrich, slated to become the district's new superintendent later this month. It also voted to extend the district's Apple lease, to adopt a modified four-day calendar in the coming school year for Maybell School and to approve an agreement with the Moffat County Education Association.

Contact Michael Neary at 970-875-1794 or mneary@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Education.