Gilpin School Board reviews policies and budget

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Updated wording reflects removal of “No Child Left Behind” language

by Patty Unruh

The Gilpin County Board of Education met on Tuesday, May 1. The members were all present: Craig Holmes, Brook Ramsey, Sarah Swanson, Kersten Armstrong, and Steve Boulter. Superintendent David MacKenzie and Secretary to the Board Joni Schmidt were also present.

Prior to the public meeting, the Board met with the District Accountability Committee (DAC) and Business Manager Terry Scharg for a work session to discuss budget matters. A brief break was taken after meeting with the DAC to enjoy birthday cake in honor of Member Swanson.

The Board meeting was called to order at 7:11 p.m.

Congratulations and Celebrations

Board members wished Swanson a happy birthday.

The prom took place last weekend and “went off without a hitch,” the members noted. There was a good turnout, there was no drama, the weather cooperated, and the kids looked fantastic as they danced from 7:30-10:30 p.m.

The Board also noted how well the school play went. The set for A Midsummer Night’s Dream was “unreal,” Holmes said. “The execution was fantastic.”

MacKenzie said it was the best of the five plays he has seen since being at Gilpin, and all performances went well.

Preliminary Budget for 2018-19

The Board reviewed the proposed preliminary budget for the 2018-19 school year and the revised adopted budget for 2017-18. They had no additional comments following the meeting with DAC about budget items.

The proposed budget projected general fund revenue of $4,328,183 and expenses of $5,928,183. Proposed revenue for the food service fund was $175,300, with expenses of $271,170. Grant funding of $93,389 is anticipated. The transportation fund revenue was shown as $185,101, with expenses of $387,750. Capital project expenses are projected to total $1,775,775, including $1,702,448 in property improvements. Transfers from the general fund to the food service, transportation, and capital project funds will be made as needed.

The revised adopted budget for 2017-18 showed general fund revenue and expenses of $5,764,434. Food service fund revenue is $175,300, with expenses of $264,556 and a transfer from the general fund of $89,256. Grant fund is $93,389. Transportation fund is $185,101, with expenses of $377,424 and a transfer of $192,323. Capital projects total $500,000 in revenue and $620,247 in expenses, with transfers as needed.

Employee Health Insurance

Board members approved the employee health insurance contract. Prior to approval, they discussed various plans under consideration. Ramsey and Holmes had attended a “meet and confer” with teachers regarding health insurance, and other districts’ plans had been researched for comparison.

The District now has a plan with Aetna and recommends changing to Cigna. MacKenzie said the inclination is to offer the new insurance without any cost to the employees at all, but only the employees’ premiums would be paid, not their spouses or families.

A Cigna 1 plan is the most similar to the current plan, but there is a significant increase in the premium.

Scharg noted that the most significant concern for the teachers seems to be out-of-pocket expenses and a higher deductible. The deductible for the Cigna 1 plan is $1,000 for the employee and $2,000 for a family, with a $3,500 out-of-pocket maximum. This is practically the same as the current Aetna plan, but the increase in premium is $177 per month. The present premium is $437 per employee; the Cigna 1 plan would raise that to $615. Under Aetna, an employee having children on the plan has a premium of $546; the new plan would raise that to $766.

Not that many have children on their plans, Scharg advised, and employees do have the option of finding something else for their children.

The Board decided to offer employees a choice of that plan as well as a Cigna 5 plan, which would have a deductible of $5,000 for an employee and $10,000 for a family, with a $6,500 out-of-pocket maximum. The higher deductible would have the advantage of a lower monthly premium: $523 for an employee and $652 for children.

Holmes mentioned supplemental gap insurance, available at $30 per month. It would cover $5,000 in out-of-pocket costs for a hospitalization of at least 18 hours for a planned procedure. Ten people must sign up for it in order for the District to provide it.

Scharg and MacKenzie plan to talk with the teachers about the insurance options on their first day back next school year.

Policy Review

The superintendent is reviewing all Board policies in preparation for review of the student handbooks and the athletic and activities handbook. The Board had directed MacKenzie to go through the “G” personnel and “I” policy sections. He recommended repealing several policies that no longer appear in the CASB (Colorado Association of School Boards) master list for recommended policies. Either they do not rise to the level of Board policy and are better suited for a handbook, or their content has been updated and absorbed into another policy. The Board approved repeal of those policies.

The Board also reviewed updated current policies on first reading. Many of these had changes in the legal references and/or removed language that referred to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), which was in effect from 2002–2015. NCLB was replaced by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015.

Policies regarding hiring removed the NCLB language.

In policies on hiring and on student admission, language pertaining to non-discrimination added “on the basis of … sexual orientation (which includes transgender) …”

The Health and Family Life/Sex Education policy included language in its legal references prohibiting the use of Title I funds for those programs and removed language referencing paying for contraception with Title I funds.

Several policies concerned students in foster care or homeless students. These basically stated that if a student is a resident in Gilpin’s district, they must be admitted. MacKenzie is the designated liaison between the school and the agencies serving those students.

Intra-District Choice/Open Enrollment policies state that resident students and their parents shall be notified annually of the options available through open enrollment in enough time to apply for those programs.

Policies pertaining to student health services and records removed references to records of students with HIV/AIDS.

The Board approved the changes to the policies and will go through a second reading in June.

Superintendent’s Report

MacKenzie reported on the progress on the track and field construction. He had a second meeting with Hellas Construction, and he and the project managers walked over the field.

“Overall, it’s going well. Hellas is great to work with. They are working on drainage now, and are getting ready to work on the interior track. Barring any weather problems, they are on schedule to finish by August 1.”

He had sent out a Request for Proposal for bids on the staircase from the upper parking lot to the atrium, receiving just one response. That company submitted an incomplete, very low bid, he said, not meeting the bid for one part of the job.

“They didn’t bid on doing the footers, so I have tabled this for now,” he reported.

The Safety Committee met on April 18 and talked through the fire alarm protocol changes. The auditorium doors have been re-keyed.

Safety Day will be held on May 22 at the county ballfields on Highway 46, not at the school, because of the construction work going on.

MacKenzie and the Board discussed the school’s new Facebook page. Safety messages will be posted, as well as photos of meals, reminders, and various other messages.

“We want people to add their photos – of prom, games, etc. Follow us, like us, and tag us!”

A survey on how well the school is doing on communication was sent out to parents. 17 responses were received.

“Most people don’t respond unless they are upset,” MacKenzie noted.

One person had apparently been upset about the dates of the elementary concerts being changed. Originally, lower elementary students were to perform on Thursday evening, May 3, and the upper elementary concert was to have been on Wednesday evening, May 2. These dates were then reversed. Some parents who work evenings had gotten off for their children’s programs and now had to try and change. Additionally, the change in dates meant that preschoolers would be out on a school night.

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 15, at 7:00 p.m.

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