Going to a four-day school week coupled with a significant pay raise, should help Yuma School District-1 remain an attractive option for educators, and classified staff, well into the future.
Both issues were discussed and approved during the Yuma-1 Board of Education’s monthly meeting, Monday night at the district office on S. Main St. All five board members participated, president Duane Brown, Thomas Holtorf, Lindsey Galles and John Deering in person, and Terri Cooper remotely.
First off, Yuma-1 will be joining many other school districts in the region in going to a four-day school week, beginning with the 2022-23 school year.
Monday will be the day off.
The district had presented three calendar options, providing for feedback through an online survey, as well as meetings with staff, and meetings in which parents/guardians, even any community member, could participate.
Two calendar options had Monday as the off day, with the other having Friday.
Superintendent Dianna Chrisman told the board the district received feedback from more than 400 people, including students, staff, parents and people who classified themselves as “other.” The Friday-off option received 40.7 percent of the responses, but the two Monday-off days combined for 59 percent.
The “Monday-off” options had some differences, notably one of them resulting in having a full week (Option 2 on the Monday-off calendars), plus the following Monday, off for Thanksgiving break. The other had the regular in-school Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week (Option 1 of the Monday-off calendars.)
Brown noted the schedule will probably need to be tweaked in coming years, but board members unanimously agreed with the Option 1. Brown said it if the district went with more than a full week off for Thanksgiving, it would be tough to ever get that back. Concerns also were voiced about having such a long break, followed by a longer Christmas break just a short time later.
None of the board members were against going to the four-day school week.
“We’re at a point in time where we have to be competitive just to get people to look at us,” Holtorf said.
The board eventually approved the Option 1 of the Monday-off calendar. There will be some adjustments, such as the elementary grades possibly starting a bit later in order to do literature testing, and possibly some adjustments for professional development days.
School days will be a bit longer due to a four-day week, but not by much, with student days going from 7:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. There will be some Mondays for school, but not many.
The approved calendar for the 2022-23 school year has the first day of classes set for August 16. Thanksgiving break will be Wednesday-Friday, along with the weekend, and then the following Monday as a regular day off. The last day before Christmas break will be Friday, December 16, and school will resume on Tuesday, January 3. Spring break basically will run March 11 (a Saturday) through Monday, March 20, which is a usual Monday off.
Yuma High School graduation is set for Sunday, May 21, 2023, eighth-grade promotion for Thursday, May 25, and the last day of school is Friday, May 26, for everyone else.
There were questions about if YHS still was considering going from a block schedule to a seven or eight period school day every day. Chrisman said the calendar needed approved first, then that would be ironed out, adding that Yuma Middle School also would be making some scheduling changes.
Board members made the point that going to a four-day school week was necessary in order to retain current staff and recruit new staff.
That was also the case with the board agreeing to a fairly significant salary increase for certified licensed staff, with classified staff wage increases expected to be approved next.
The board unanimously approved a $3,200 “per step” wage increase for certified licensed staff. That puts Yuma-1’s base salary at $37,000, and the high end, Step 25, at $63,650. That is on top of the benefits provided by the district, as well as Yuma-1 picking up employees’ increased payments into the Public Employee Retirement Account (PERA) in recent years.
Chrisman presented a handful of different salary increases before recommending the $3,200 increase. A $3,800 increase was at the top end, which Brown noted the board could revisit if all goes well with state financing.
Chrisman said the increase approved by the board puts the district right at the top in northeast Colorado, and that Yuma-1 pulls away from other districts in the region the longer a teacher works for Yuma-1.
Prior to the board taking action, Chrisman explained that the State of Colorado is increasing funding for K-12 education. Yuma-1 is in line to receive approximately $800,000 in new funding for the next fiscal year, and also is receiving a bump in state funding during the current fiscal year.
“I am very confident we have the funds to support it,” she said, adding it can remain sustainable well into the future.
Chrisman said she did not recommend the top-end increase only to be conservative. Brown pointed out that the projected revenue increase, including sources such as the specific-ownership tax, compared to projected expenditure increases, leaves the district in position to possibly re-visit an even bigger salary bump in the future.
“It’s the best investment we make,” he said of salaries that retain and recruit the best educators possible.
Ryan Noble briefly addressed the board as a representative of the Conservative Christian Parents Coalition.
He noted the Teacher Appreciation Week is May 1-6, and the group wants to host an event for the teachers. Noble said the group will host a planning meeting on March 27 at 6 p.m. at the Yuma Community and Enrichment Center, and everyone is invited to participate.
The consent calendar included multiple donations to the Yuma wrestling program: $250 from Agri-Inject; $100 from Drew Helmus and Robert Smith; $500 from CJL Ag, LLC; $150 from Tommy and Brenda Blach; $75 from Rick Baxter; $2,500 from Gary Newton, and; $500 from Schramm Feedlot, Inc.
Recommended hirings approved as part of the consent calendar involved Sarah Leifheit as YMS girls basketball assistant coach; Lizde Quezada and Monica Arvizo Trejo as custodians, and two more people as Paras at YHS. Approved resignations and separations involved: Caley Glisan, YMS seventh-grade math teacher; Amanda Cook, part-time driver; Karina Gonzalez, YHS para; Lorrie Shephard, custodian; Elizabeth Baucke, second-grade teacher; Luz Sanchez, second-grade teacher, and; Maria (Jesu) Varela, MES para.