School year to finish remotely

Yuma School District-1 officially announced late Tuesday afternoon that school buildings will remain closed through the end of the school year. Remote learning will continue through May 19.
It also was announced earlier this week at the state level that all spring sports and activities officially are canceled for this school year.

Summer activities will not take place until Governor Jared Polis recommends it is okay.
Yuma-1 Superintendent Dianna Chrisman told the Yuma-1 Board of Education during its regular monthly meeting, Monday night at the district office on Yuma’s S. Main St., that a final decision on how to conduct the remainder of the school year would be determined after Colorado’s school superintendents held a conference call with Governor Jared Polis on Tuesday morning.
Polis had announced late Monday afternoon a relaxation of the state’s stay-at-home orders, including many retail businesses being able to reopen in the coming weeks, though it would require certain public safety protocols remaining in place.
However, schools were to remain closed to in-person instruction until at least mid-May, which is near the end of the school year for Yuma schools, as well as most of the rest of the schools in the region.
Chrisman participated in the teleconference with Polis, Tuesday morning, after which Yuma-1 made it official later in the day.
Even if “normal” school was to return with the start of the new school year at the end of the Summer of 2020, Chrisman noted Monday night that the current situation is at least helping the Yuma community learn how to deal in the event of a “second surge” of cases were to arise at some point later, again forcing schools into the “remote learning” protocols.
Yuma-1, like all other area schools, was forced into remote learning coming out of spring break when the COVID-19 pandemic began to tighten its grip on Colorado and all of the United States in mid-March.
It has not been easy for anyone involved, but at least it seems almost everyone is making the most of an unprecedented difficult situation.
Chrisman praised students, teachers, parents and other school district staff for making the most of it, Monday night during the board’s regular monthly meeting.
(COVID-19 related news: All five boards members, Dan Ross, Thomas Holtorf, Kim Langley, Lindsey Galles and Duane Brown were in attendance in the downtown district office, along Chrisman and district secretary Rhonda Metcalfe. Chad Rayl of the owner’s representative firm Project One, helping look out after the school district’s interest in its $32 million renovation/expansion project, and Pioneer editor Tony Rayl, also were in attendance, bringing the total within an acceptable nine people. A special configuration was set up within the board meeting room so everyone could maintain an acceptable “social distancing” but the meeting could have been canceled if more had shown up to participate in the public meeting, which is the public’s right.)
YHS officials remain in contact with members of the Class of 2020, which is now missing out on most of the iconic senior year memories. Of upmost importance is graduation. The Yuma-1 board was told Monday night that if the graduating class wants to stick with a May graduation, it most likely will have to be of a “virtual” variety. However, there still remains hope for an actual graduation later in the summer, perhaps in June or July, if the Class of 2020 can agree to such an arrangement. It is hoped the situation can be made clear enough in coming weeks so the seniors, and their families, can make an informed decision.
Yuma students of all grades have been doing “remote learning” for more than three weeks now, and that reality will remain in place for the rest of the school year, if not into the next one.
Chrisman said Monday night she is proud of everyone in the community doing all they can to meet the challenge. She said the district is trying to not be overwhelming for anyone involved, including parents who have suddenly been thrust into home schooling roles, although with as much back-up as possible from the teachers.
In the end, though there will not be any in-classroom instruction again this school year, hope remains that maybe Yuma’s students, teachers and staff can get together at some point in the coming weeks or months for an event like a barbecue — something at least to bring everyone back together.

School budget
Yuma School District-1 is preparing a 2020-21 budget that includes an across-the-board 10-percent reduction in expenditures, the Yuma-1 Board of Education was told during its regular monthly meeting, Monday night at the district office in downtown Yuma.
Fortunately, it should not have an impact on the education the Yuma students receive next school year, though employees are being asked to shoulder their share of a modest health insurance increase.
Superintendent Dianna Chrisman told the board it was sounding like there would be a 5-percent reduction in state funding for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. She said the district is formulating a 10-percent decrease in funding in its 2020-21 budget just to be safe.

However, Yuma-1 should not have to go into reserves.
That is because of funds not being spent now due to the schools being closed. For example, the district spent roughly $15,000 on fuel last March through June. It has spent $1,400 since the start of March, when school was in session for two weeks, and will have minimal spending the rest of the fiscal year.
Chrisman said there has not been much savings in utilities since people still have been in and out of the buildings.
However, there is approximately $600,000 in capital project expenditures that are not being done, and about $450,000 will be rolled into reserves for the next fiscal year. Chrisman said the money was earmarked for projects that would have been nice to get done, but are not critical and can always been done in later years.
She explained those savings would cover the reduction in funding
The board was tasked with making one 2020-21 budget related decision Monday night, approving the staff health insurance renewal.
The premium increase is 7 percent. Chrisman said the district’s Insurance Committee did not meet, but everyone was provided the information, and the feedback was that the committee felt good about recommending keeping the current health insurance plans, and for the district to absorb the full costs of the increase.
Chrisman said she would not recommend the district absorb the increase if not for the other budget factors mentioned above in play.
Two options were presented to the board, the other being the employees and district share in covering the 7-percent increase. There was a difference of $16,000 in district expenditures between the two options.
In the end, the board approved a motion having the district and employees share in the cost increase. The vote was 4-1 with Galles casting the dissenting vote, while Dan Ross, Duane Brown, Kim Langley and Thomas Holtorf voted in favor.
Speaking of employees, it also was noted during Monday’s meeting that all district employees were still getting paid and receiving benefits. Chrisman said nearly all staff are still working, the only exceptions being bus drivers and paras, though some have been helping with the food distribution program.
Speaking of which, Chrisman told the board the district is distributing to an average of 400 youth in Yuma and Eckley on Mondays and Thursdays, providing three breakfasts and lunches to each.
She said the district still is receiving its supplies without any problems, noting some other districts have run into issues with that.
The board passed the second reading of a policy regarding electronic participation in school board meetings. It also passed the first reading of policy revisions for 27 policies.
A donation of $400 from Noble Ranch LLC to the Yuma FFA chapter for an artificial insemination class for the students was approved.