The Yuma School District-1 Board of Education approved the 2023-24 calendar during its regular monthly meeting, this past Monday night in the board room at the district office on the Yuma High School campus.
All five board members participated. Duane Brown, Lindsey Galles, Thomas Holtorf and John Deering attend in-person, while Terri Cooper participated remotely.
The 2023-24 school year again will have four-day weeks. The only Monday school is November 20, the week of Thanksgiving, which will include a five-day weekend. The last day of school before Christmas vacation is December 22, and classes resume January 9. Spring break is March 11-15.
Graduation is set for May 19, 2024, eighth-grade promotion May 23, and the last day of school May 24, a Friday.
Superintendent Dianna Chrisman told the board the usual 3.844 snow days, plus two days for early release or late start were included. It also includes potential make-up days if the district again exceeds its allotted snow days, as it has this school year. The district and board added three make-up days earlier this year, due to all the snow, and have used two, including one coming up in April. The third, if needed would be in May. The next school year calendar already includes those make-up days if needed — January 22, February 5 and April 8.
Chrisman said there was not much feedback from the public or staff in regards to the calendar. She said some staff members mentioned the August 7 start date for staff due to the Yuma County Fair. Chrisman said a compromise was reached in which the administration will not make that a day full of meetings. She said some parents mentioned a preference for five-day school weeks, but also understood utilizing the four-day week for teacher recruitment. There also were some questions about Christmas break being a little later than usual. Chrisman said that is a result of how the holidays fall on the calendar in the upcoming school year.
Parent Ronella Noble also addressed the board earlier in the meeting, during visitors comments, in regards to staff professional development days. She noted there were 20 such days included in the 2023-24 calendar, adding the state does not require a certain amount of professional development days.
Noble said her research showed Yuma-1 has increased professional development days over the past several years, and has quite a bit more than other school districts in the area, and even along the Front Range.
“It seems Yuma has a lot of professional development days,” Noble said. “…I just thought that amount of days is interesting when looking at the upcoming calendar.”
Later, when the board was considering approval for the 2023-24 calendar, Brown referenced Noble’s comments and asked Chrisman if anyone had mentioned the 20 professional development days. Chrisman said no teachers or administrators had said anything.
Yuma-1 is blessed with a healthy amount of reserves, so the district is going to invest some of it into certificates of deposit.
Chrisman told the board it was Brown’s idea to visit with local banks and investment brokerages about putting some of the reserves into interest-bearing accounts.
She told the board the Bank of Colorado offered 4.35 percent interest on a nine-month CD, or 4 percent on three-month or six-month CDs. She said the district was wanting to invest $3 million of well above $8 million in reserves, and recommended the nine-month CD at 4.35-percent interest with Bank of Colorado.
Chrisman said at that rate the district would realize $120,000 in interest earnings in one year, though adding it is a nine-month investment, so it was not clear if the interest rate would change much when it came time to renew. The board would revisit the investment prior to renewal.
The district also will be converting its checking account into a money market account that will carry an interest rate of 2.15 percent.
Chrisman noted the district’s reserves are much higher than $3 million, but the district wants to keep reserve funds available to help fill the gap for projects that are being done that later will be re-imbursed by ESSER (COVID-19) funds.
Brown also noted that this is the first time in a long time that interest rates are high enough to make it worthwhile to make such a move.
The board unanimously approved the investment strategy.
The consent calendar approved by the board included the hirings of Luke Goeglein and Aaron Prior as co-head coaches for Yuma High School girls golf. The two are among the best golfers one will find in Yuma. It also included the hiring of Laura Brandner as a cook, and the resignation of Christine Daugherty as YHS cheer assistant coach.
Several donations were included: $200 from Greg and Heather Klein for negative lunch balances at Yuma Middle School; $409 from the First Southern Baptist Church to help with athletic fees for athletes; $300 from the Yuma Lions Club for YHS vocal music; $30 from Deb Higgins for YHS FFA, a donation in memory of Craig Lambley; $750 from Smithfield for the YHS Ag Department; $204 from the Yuma Booster Club for meals for boys regional wrestling, and $192 for meals for girls regional wrestling; $235.12 from Knights of Columbus for special education; another $192 from the booster club for meals at boys regional wrestling and another $216 for meals at girls regional wrestling, and $278 from C.J. Leonhardt for postseason travel for wrestling.
The consent calendar included ratifying activity trip requests for the YHS FBLA to State FBLA in Aurora in April, the girls wrestling team to regionals in Broomfield last month, and the wrestling teams to the state tournament in Denver in February.
Several policy parameters and special policy updates also were approved as part of the consent calendar.
• Chrisman told the board that the implementation of Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) is proving to be frustrating for many as the school district has no control of the enrollment of youth into the pre-Ki program. She explained that various organizations have been assigned implementing the state’s new program, and they place the students, not the school district. Chrisman said she fully supports universal pre-school, but would have liked to have seen the mechanisms all in place before rolling it out.
• The superintendent told the board the district is getting closer to getting back to normal bus routes in the country, but there still are rough spots out there. She said she received a call from a parent about the return of in-town busing. She said it would require several new bus drivers, and had explained to the parent all the district has tried to do — salary increases, paying for CDL licenses, and benefits like a full-time employee — but it is difficult to attract drivers.
• Holtorf noted the district has spent quite a bit of money on new uniforms, following the required dropping of the “Indians” mascot. He questioned why for track and field only the tops were purchased, and the athletes and parents are being required to purchase the rest of the uniform. Chrisman said she had not heard about that, and would look into it.