No one really knows yet how K-12 education will look when the 2020-21 school year is supposed to begin in the late fall.
However, Yuma School District-1 definitely is going to be prepared if it has to go back to remote learning at any time.
The Yuma-1 Board of Education approved spending $205,000 for 850 new Chromebooks during its regular monthly meeting, Monday night, while the YMS eighth grade celebrated its “promotion” outside with a honking vehicle parade up and down S. Main St.
The purchase will allow the district to give each student a Chromebook, in the event the district has to go back to remote learning even for a few days. The district handed out Chromebooks, and wifi “hot spots” to families who needed them in March when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the district into remote learning protocols coming out of spring break. However, now all students will have a Chromebook for school use.
Yuma-1 was able to purchase so many laptops thanks to a $113,000 grant, a $20,000 donation from the Colorado Health Foundation, and the balance coming from funds still available to the district through the small rural schools funding.
Superintendent Dianna Chrisman told the board Monday night that it still was too early to tell how school will resume later this year. She said the hope is the picture will be clear enough by late June or early July to determine how to proceed.
The primary goal is to try to resume in-person schooling in some form, even if it means social-distancing measures and staggered classroom time. The purchase of the Chromebooks will allow for at least the older students to quickly switch to remote learning, if even for a few days, if for instance a new case of COVID-19 was to arise in the community.
The board unanimously approved the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for the Yuma Middle School portion of the $32 million renovation/expansion project. The GMP for that phase was approved at $2.2 million, and one can read more about it in another article in this week’s edition.
Everyone employed by the district is getting their contracts for the 2020-21 school year. The board unanimously approved the professional/licensed staff contracts, and the classified staff notice of assignments, during Monday night’s regular monthly meeting.
Yuma-1, facing reduced revenue in coming years, has enacted a hiring freeze, not replacing most positions, teaching and classified, that come open when someone resigns or retires. There are going to be some exceptions, such as the district going ahead with hiring a new elementary school music teacher since that position is considered tough to fill.
The board approved the purchase of a new Walker mower for grounds maintenance, from Asmus Equipment, for approximately $17,000. It was noted before board approval that this is a tough time to make such a purchase, but it was time to replace an obsolete New Holland tractor equipped for mowing and snow removal, and that the new one will last a long time.
The board approved the revision to the salary schedule to reflect the approved 2019-20 PERA increase of 0.75 percent. The district was looking at doing another 0.75 percent for the next fiscal year, but that is not going to happen now. However, the PERA increase approved last year needs to be reflected in the contracts and salary schedule the district is now sending out to employees.
The board approved the second reading of policy and regulations updates for 27 board policies, covering a wide range of subjects.
Authorized hirings included Emily McMichael as the new Morris Elementary School music teacher, Kyle Newton as the YHS head wrestling coach, Jeremy Robinson as the YHS head girls basketball coach, and Jud Hall for summer grounds work. Resignation/separations were accepted from Diana Bencomo as a para at YMS, and Emmanuel Avina as a ELL para at YMS.
All five board members were at Monday’s regular meeting: President Dan Ross, along with Duane Brown, Lindsey Galles, Kim Langley, and Thomas Holtorf.