Moffat County School District hosting series of meetings for stakeholders | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County School District hosting series of meetings for stakeholders

Someone in Moffat County School DistrictMoffat County School District has some homework, and it’s not the students. has some homework, and it's not the students.

Moffat County School District has some homework, and it's not the students.

In the first of a series of stakeholder meetings, MCSD welcomed parents and community members to provide input on the difficulties the district is facing.

If you go

Moffat County School District stakeholder meeting

6 p.m. Feb. 24

Colorado Northwestern Community College Craig campus

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— The meetings are open to all community members with input regarding the district's budget and other school efficiency ideas.

Moffat County School District 2016-17 budget timeline

• Stakeholder meetings: Feb. 24, March 2 and March 23. A fourth meeting will be held at an currently undetermined date in April.

• Presentation of proposed budget to Board of Education: May 19

• Public hearing about budget: June 2

• Adoption of budget: June 23

The Wednesday gathering, held at the Clarion Inn & Suites, brought together MCSD employees, members of the Board of Education and other people wanting to weigh in on the matter.

Russell George, president of Colorado Northwestern Community CollegeColorado Northwestern Community College, served as a mediator for the event, intending as a full conversation, not merely a presentation., served as a mediator for the event, intending as a full conversation, not merely a presentation.

Colorado Northwestern Community College, served as a mediator for the event, intending as a full conversation, not merely a presentation.

"We have no intention of talking at you," he told the crowd.

District representatives including Amy Ward, director of curriculum and assessments and teacher Julie Sperl spoke of the need to pinpoint priorities within schools to enhance performance while still maintaining the positive attributes each school within MCSD already possesses.

Ward added that she sees many students and teachers who are engaged on both sides of the educational dynamic.

"What I see is happy learning," she said.

Ward encouraged all in attendance to break into groups to list all the traits they'd like to see in local schools, regardless of whether they are currently being met. After the group work, the microphone went to district finance director Tinneal Gerber and teacher and co-president of Moffat County Education Association Mariah Doolin to discuss the budget gap MCSD is facing — a projected $1.84 million.

Data trends such as the decrease in student enrollment in MCSD — down nine percent from where it was in 2005 — and the decrease in staff — down 19 percent from 2005 — showed how the district has worked to do less with more in a state system where it has regularly been among the lowest funded districts in the state, estimated at 168th of 178 in the state in terms of funding per pupil.

The questions posed to and from the audience: What's the best solution for that dilemma?

If the budget is trimmed, what makes the cut? How much of the money received from the state already goes to each student? Should the district touch the reserve money in its general fund? How effective would a mill levy be in the budget woes?

What specifically will be best for students, teachers and the overall community?

This was the challenge of the night, a call for parents and locals to take some time to think about the issue and what elements in the classroom or outside are absolutely necessary. As part of this appeal for feedback, MCSD will host several more stakeholder meetings, the next taking place Feb. 24 at CNCC, with more meetings in March and April leading up to the proposal of the upcoming budget in May and its finalization in June.

However, the budget is only part of the discussion going forward.

City Councilor John Ponikvar said the district needs to address the "lack of confidence" some have in the local school system in order to create a better vision for success.

Likewise, Tiffany Trevenen of East Elementary School said she hopes to see people reach a consensus about what they want the district and its students to achieve as well as addressing the financial woes.

"We're not all going to agree on what our kids need," she said. "We're a small community, we're a family. We need a common shared vision and values. That's what we need to hold on to."

George lauded the "exceptional" turnout for the night and encouraged all to return for the following meetings and to bring a friend or two.

"Confidence comes from having participated in the discussion," he said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

If you go

Moffat County School District stakeholder meeting

6 p.m. Feb. 24

Colorado Northwestern Community College Craig campus

— The meetings are open to all community members with input regarding the district’s budget and other school efficiency ideas.

Moffat County School District 2016-17 budget timeline

• Stakeholder meetings: Feb. 24, March 2 and March 23. A fourth meeting will be held at an currently undetermined date in April.

• Presentation of proposed budget to Board of Education: May 19

• Public hearing about budget: June 2

• Adoption of budget: June 23