School board covered ground in meeting

The Yuma School District-1 Board of Education covered a wide range of topics during its regular monthly meeting, this past Monday night at the district office in downtown Yuma.
After approving the consent calendar (see below), the board dealt with graduation requirements.
Yuma High School Principal Brady Nighswonger led the discussion, explaining that a committee at the school has decided on going with a seven-period school day. That will result in the amount of credits needed for graduation are dropping from 27 to 24.
Students still have to earn four credits in math and English, and three credits in science and social studies. Nighswonger said the major difference is the ICAP credit is being removed, as well as two elective credits.
That led to discussion about ICAP (Individual Career and Academic Plan). Each student has one, with the process beginning in junior high, to help provide a career pathway, whatever it is. Students still will have an ICAP and still will take financial literacy and employability skills courses, but it will not be a graduation credit.
That also led to discussion about the importance of the high school counselor position and support staff, as well as the responsibility of students and parents to help make sure the students stay on course.
The board approved the new graduation guideline polices on a 4-0 vote.
Board and staff spent quite a bit of time on the Capital Outlay Plan.
Superintendent Dianna Chrisman told the board that Holtorf called her before the meeting, telling her he has concerns with the old ag building renovation and wanted to have more discussion on that when he is present.
The renovation project’s budget has grown to $1.5 million. Chrisman explained the hope is to not spend that much, but the district wanted to be on the safe side by budgeting high. The project entails turning the old ag building on the YHS campus into the new district office, along with housing Transportation and Maintenance departments. The current district office will be sold to help offset some of the cost.
There was discussion about unused funds being carried over in reserves for the 2022-23 fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Brown noted that the district has very healthy reserves, and in his opinion some of that money should be put to use to improve campus and facilities to better serve the students.
Chrisman mentioned that it appears the district will spend about $285,000 on the mascot change. The district had budgeted $400,000 for those costs. She said the district is committed to keeping in reserves what it would cost to run the district for six months. The reserves currently are above that threshhold. Brown again reiterated the district should put excess reserves to use for the betterment of students and staff.
Chrisman recommended tabling approval of the Capital Outlay Plan until Holtorf can participate in the discussion, but to go ahead and approve the appropriation for the 2022-23 budget, adding that the appropriation can be changed at a later date if necessary.
That led to the board dealing with the 2022-23 budget approval and appropriations. The budget currently is built on “best guesses” and will not be “final” until early in 2023 after the district has its official student count.
The budget includes a beginning fund (reserves) of $8.11 million, and projected General Fund revenue of $11.95 million, for a total General Fund of $20.065 million. The district’s total budget, including Captital Reserve, Bond Redemption, Food Service, Pupil Activity and Building funds, is set at $26.95 million.
There is $2.24 million in capital projects.
The board approved the budget and appropriation resolution on a 4-0 vote.
The board also acted on a resolution supporting Initiative 63, approving it on a 4-0 vote.
Prior to the vote, it was explained that Colorado is last in the United States in funding education. The initiative advocates tapping into “surplus” tax revenue that would go to TABOR refunds to taxpayers and instead reallocate it specifically for education, geared toward salary increases for all staff. Those behind the initiative say it will raise about $900 million for education. Supporters soon will start gathering signatures on petitions to get it on the November ballot.
Brown said it would result in a significant bump to Yuma-1 and all schools in Colorado. He stressed that being an educator needs to be a more attractive job, and it is embarrassing that Colorado is last in teacher pay.
Chrisman reported that the district recently received the official letter from the Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs that Yuma-1 is officially off the “non-compliance” list in regards to American Indian mascots and imagery. The $25,000 per month fine would have started this month if still on the list.

Consent Calendar
A donation of $770 from sixth-grade parents for the sixth-grade outdoor camp trip was approved as part of the Consent Calendar.
Also included were the recommended hirings of Bailee Clarkson as YHS Registrar/Counselor Assistant; Laurie Kjosness as Student Support Services Director/Crisis Response Coordinator (half time); and Beau Tate and Sam Wells as temporary summer grounds/maintenance help. Approved separations/resignations were for Giovanny Rodriguez as YHS assistant softball coach, and Ella Gale as YMS para.
The first reading of a policy update on staff leave was approved, as was the activity trip request for the YHS volleyball team to go to a camp in Alamosa, July 6-9.