Making Gains on the SAT
by Patty Unruh
The Gilpin County Board of Education held its regular meeting on Tuesday, September 18, at 7:00 p.m. Craig Holmes, Sarah Swanson, Kersten Armstrong, and Steve Boulter were the Board members present. Brook Ramsey was absent. Superintendent David MacKenzie and Secretary to the Board Joni Schmidt were present.
Making Gains on the SAT
Secondary math teacher Rachel Van Hoose and two of her students, Jessica Wilhelm and Samantha Smith, spoke to the Board about preparing for the SAT test by having high school juniors look at fall practice test score data and working on improvements before taking the real test in the spring.
Gilpin switched two years ago from having its students take the ACT test to having them take the SAT.
“This is the first year we are doing data on the scores, so it’s new territory,” Van Hoose said. She meets individually with her math students to collaborate on setting goals as students consider colleges and apply for scholarships.
Jessica Wilhelm explained, “Each student goes through their scores and sets goals.”
Samantha Smith added, “We specify what we need to practice on and how much time to spend per month.”
Van Hoose sets a goal for all students of reaching at least the 51st percentile; the 50th percentile is average.
September Artist Recognition
13-year-old Chrislynn Martinez was recognized as artist for the month of September. She had two works to display. The first was an abstract of an opera house. She used splatter and rubbing alcohol in her painting techniques. Art teacher Curt Halsted said the students had learned about the history of the Central City Opera House as they completed their projects.
Chrislynn’s second work was a painting influenced by Japanese artist Hokusai and featured a cresting wave with Mt. Fuji in the background.
Congratulations and Celebrations
The varsity and junior varsity volleyball teams both won games against Longmont Christian the evening of the school board meeting.
The high school football team got on the board at their game against Hayden on September 14, with a 75-yard touchdown run and an 80-yard kickoff return.
The Board approved the business manager’s report, check vouchers for August, the financial statement for June and August, the human resources report, and the quarterly financial report for June 2018.
Business Manager Terry Scharg reported in her September memo that the majority of adjustments for the 2017-18 school year have been made, but she and the auditors are still working on finalizing the 2017-18 numbers.
Scharg advised that revisions for the 2018-19 budget will begin in the next few weeks. The Gilpin County Assessor’s Office sent the preliminary gross assessed valuation numbers for the current school year. The total gross assessed valuation for the current year is $319,832,169, an increase of $3,292,792 from the prior year.
General fund revenue for June 2018 was $815,870; expenditures were $495,655. Food service revenue was $29,057; expenditures were $23,152. Transportation fund revenue was $27,049; expenditures were $29,751. Capital projects showed $1,246,661 was spent on property improvements.
General fund revenue for August 2018 was $377,012; expenditures were $495,390. Food service revenue was $7,360; expenditures were $17,879. Transportation fund revenue was $1,558; expenditures were $15,747. Capital projects showed $772,664 in property improvements and $21,213 in the purchase of a new vehicle.
DAC Charges for 2018-19
District Accountability Committee (DAC) co-chairs Mary Lorenz and Dick Vickery met with the Board to receive the Board’s charges for the current school year. The DAC is charged with monitoring, reviewing, and making recommendations in several areas mandated by Colorado Senate bills or Gilpin district policy. Some of the areas are teacher and principal effectiveness evaluation model and process, unified improvement plans for the schools and district, nutrition and wellness policy, gifted and talented program delivery, 2019-20 proposed district budget expenditures, and the preschool program.
Lorenz reported that the committee has at least ten members and others had expressed interest.
The DAC moved its meetings to the third Tuesdays of each month at 5:30 p.m. to coincide with school board meetings, so its members could attend both meetings.
The public is welcome to attend DAC meetings and to make comments.
Board Supports Amendment 73
The Board approved a resolution endorsing Colorado Amendment 73. The amendment will be on the ballot on November 6 as a combined constitutional amendment and state statute. A “yes” vote supports the initiative to establish a tax bracket system rather than a flat tax rate as Colorado currently has, raise taxes for individuals earning more than $150,000 per year, raise the corporate tax rate, and create the “Quality Public Education Fund.” If Amendment 73 passes, it will tax some Coloradans an additional $1.6 billion annually.
The Board’s resolution contained several statements:
Colorado is experiencing a crisis in securing teachers for technical, math, and scientific fields and a severe shortage of qualified teacher candidates in Gilpin County.
Teacher pay in Colorado continues to lag significantly below other states.
Colorado ranks 48th nationally in personal income invested in education.
In 2017-18, Colorado schools were underfunded by nearly $830 million, and the loss to Gilpin County School’s students and families has been over $5 million since 2009.
Of Colorado’s 175 school superintendents, “171 support House Bill 18-1232, legislation providing a framework through the State’s School Finance Act to disperse and manage the funds gained through Amendment 73,” the resolution said.
By way of additional information, Colorado currently has a flat tax rate of 4.63 percent. Those earning less than $150,000 would continue to be taxed at that rate under Amendment 73. The corporate tax rate would go from 4.63 to 6 percent. The property tax rate for residential property would be decreased from 7.2 to 7 percent and the non-residential property rate would be decreased from 29 to 24 percent. Revenue generated from the new taxes would be dedicated to the Quality Public Education Fund to increase the statewide base per-pupil funding for preschool through 12-grade public education.
Supporters of the amendment say it would help to address inequities in Colorado’s current tax system, provide sustainable support for schools for years to come, stabilize the local share of education funding by first lowering property tax rates and then freezing the rates, raise sustainable revenue for teachers, and enable local districts to spend the money as needed.
Opponents say the amendment is poorly crafted and would take away protection established from significant tax increases on homeowners and other residential property owners; increase school property taxes at the expense of cities, counties, and special districts, including social services, police and fire departments, parks, libraries, public safety, and roads; and discourage corporations from locating to Colorado due to high tax rates. Critics also say that Amendment 73 locks the residential assessment rate in at 7 percent, when the rate is otherwise projected to drop below 7 percent in the 2019 reappraisal.
MacKenzie said much attention has been focused on test scores this year. Colorado Academic Standards show what children should know and be able to do at each grade level. The tests are aligned with these standards.
MacKenzie had been observing elementary classrooms. Teachers are working on helping students achieve one year’s growth or more in one year’s time.
The track is not yet done. MacKenzie has identified areas for touch-up. Lines for the lanes are to be applied next week.
MacKenzie walked the halls with the school resource officer to identify locations for camera placement and magnetic door stops. He is working on a plan for an automated emergency notification system and will apply for a BEST grant to fund the system.
A sewer repair was made because a joint had shifted and caused a back-up, which created an odor in the old gym’s locker rooms.
Elementary Principal Heather Huntoon and Secondary Principal Alexis Donaldson were not present, but had submitted written reports.
Huntoon summarized upcoming events, including a 100 Elk field trip on October 1-3 for the Montessori upper elementary and fourth grade classes and an October 1 visit to the Leadville fish hatchery for fifth graders. Teachers have been analyzing state test results and determining what students did well and where they need to improve. Gifted Education Coordinator Sunny Vincent is meeting twice a month with gifted students.
Donaldson reported that data cards have been created for every secondary student and a data wall has been established. Student Council is planning homecoming week. The guidance counselor is meeting with all seniors to ensure they are on track to graduate.
The next meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, October 2, at 7:00 p.m.