School Board Meeting May 4th
By Curt Halsted
Teacher Appreciation Week
The week of May 3rd was teacher appreciation week. At the Gilpin County School Board Meeting on May 4th, Superintendent Dr. David MacKenzie (Dr. Dave) shared that the teachers were provided individual packaged Bundt cakes, along with cupcakes made by local baker and school staff alum Ardetta Robinson. Teachers were also given gift buckets.
Seniors Look Forward to Graduation
The Senior Class will celebrate graduation with a ceremony held on the football field with socially distanced family groups on May 15th. They have already finished their finals and a BBQ on their last day of school. They will return to school on May 13th for a Chick-fil-A breakfast with the school board and be cheered on by the elementary in an outside procession. Board president, Steve Boulter, was pleased we were doing something, but lamented that the kids have missed so much with the pandemic, like home cooked celebrations and prom.
Policy for Support of Students who are Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Amended
The Board passed the second reading of Policy AC-E-3 which was reworked to include the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming, as well as gender conforming students. The policy was changed to make sure that if any student was uncomfortable in any situation that they would have options for privacy, while allowing transgender and gender nonconforming students the right to express and participate according to their gender identity. In most cases how a non-conforming student adapts to the school environment would be handled on a case by case basis, but it reads that, “In all cases, the goal is to ensure the safety, comfort, and healthy development of the students who are transgender or gender nonconforming while maximizing the students’ social integration and minimizing stigmatization of the students.” The policy goes over transgender and gender nonconforming employee and student rights to privacy, protocol for staff members, and encourages the reduction or elimination of the practice of segregating students by gender in unnecessary situations.
With 114 days of in-person learning and 13 to go, 83% of students have returned to in-person learning. In April there were two quarantines in 3rd and 5th grade. The quarantines were put in place to ensure no virus was being transmitted at school after reports of documented exposure, and or symptoms being displayed. Dr. Dave commended parents for keeping sick students at home, and sharing information about positive COVID tests and exposure, but said that sometimes students become sick at school, or are sent to school sick. He shared that on average two students a day are being sent home sick, which has helped support continued in-person learning. Dr. Dave commented that vaccinations may be offered during back to school nights for 2021/22.
CDE Releases Stricter Guidance for 2021/22 Remote Learning
Gilpin is currently planning on offering in-person learning, and remote learning through CDLS and designated teacher support. The new guidance recently released by CDE calls for 20% of the students learning to be synchronous with an in-district teacher. This ratio may be hard to meet with the current plan of having four Gilpin teachers designated as CDLS support teachers. Dr. Dave is waiting for clarification on the guidance, but encouraged families to consider coming back to school for in-person learning if possible.
2020/21 Budget and School Revenue Report
Business Manager Terry Scharg reported that property tax and the tax generated by car registration is higher than expected. She shared that there are a few line items that are under budget amounting to about $20,000, while supplemental funds from Black Hawk and the State are over budget by $40,000 (Black Hawk) and $50,000 (State). Funds leftover from the 2020/21 school year, with the exception of grants, will be put into reserve for future expenses. Terry pointed out that the state encourages districts to keep three months’ worth of expenses in reserve. She shared that overall the school’s budget compared to revenue is leaving the district in good shape for this fiscal year. Board member Sarah Swanson thanked Terry for always being on top of the numbers.
Salary Schedule Increases Approved
The Board approved increased salary schedules for staff. Increasing the schedules aligns with a long-term goal to make Gilpin School salaries and pay rates competitive with surrounding districts. This will continue to allow the district to attract highly qualified teachers and staff. The licensed teacher salary grid now starts at $40,005, while administrative assistants will start at $15.86 per hour. The board also approved the planned step increases for all staff for the 2020/21 school year along with the salary schedules for classified staff.
Graduation Requirements Adjusted to Accommodate Schedule Change
One positive change from the pandemic that students and staff have encouraged administration to continue is keeping a 6 period a day schedule compared to the 8 period schedule that was in place. Dr. Dave explained that in order to make the adjustment the graduation requirements must ratchet down from 28 credits to 24 credits for incoming freshmen. The administrative team that developed the policy change compared the recommendations by the Colorado Higher Education Commission, Colorado’s college entrance requirements and the graduation requirements of surrounding school districts. Classes that students are required to take were also reduced so that students would have the freedom to specialize their program in the fine arts or another track of study. All courses will still be offered but the plan allows for choice, or even in depth study through CDLS, Edmentum, or through local community colleges. Board member Joe Marr was concerned that there may be a perception that the school is requiring less and cutting students short. Sarah Swanson pointed out that the longer class periods are beneficial because teachers will have more time to work with students individually and receive a higher quality education. Dr. Dave pointed out that instead of a study hall students will have time to work in differentiated learning scenarios within their subject area teachers. The first reading of the proposal was approved, and will be revisited at the next meeting. The meeting was called to a close at 7:41 pm.
Caption for pic sent in separate email:
Gilpin staff members Heather Huntoon, Sunny Vincent, and Catrina Amaya show off their “Dream Beach Vacation Teacher Appreciation Buckets” with striped towels and sippy cups. Aloha teachers, keep dreaming, school is not over yet!