Staff members concerned about health insurance cost increase
by Patty Unruh
The Gilpin County Board of Education held its regular meeting before a full house on Tuesday, April 16, at 7:00 p.m. Board members present were Craig Holmes, Sarah Swanson, Kersten Armstrong, and Steve Boulter. Superintendent David MacKenzie, Elementary Principal Heather Huntoon, and Secretary to the Board Joni Schmidt were present also. Board member Brook Ramsey and Secondary Principal Alexis Donaldson were absent.
Congratulations and Celebrations
The school play, “She Kills Monsters,” is taking place this weekend. Performances are Thursday and Friday evenings, April 18 and 19 at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, April 20 at noon.
The baseball team won its game against Lyons on Monday, April 15.
Montessori teachers Monica Ruhl and Lauren Nelson brought their first through third graders to present the book they just published, “Making a Difference and Saving Our Earth.” Principal Huntoon said that the project was an example of instructional strategies and student engagement.
The students told of the effort required, including reading articles, writing a rough draft that was edited by upper elementary students, doing a final draft for their portfolio, and getting the book published.
“We used a lot of whiteout,” one student confessed.
The children circulated among the Board members to read portions of the book.
Several staff members were present during public comment. Teachers Kellie Bayne and Sunny Vincent addressed the Board, thanking the members for making teachers’ salaries better. She then noted that at a “meet and confer” with staff a couple of weeks previously, higher insurance costs had been brought up. She asked whether funding could continue the same and handed the Board information explaining the teachers’ reasoning. She asked the Board to consider the teachers’ viewpoints. Holmes responded that the Board would read and discuss the handout in executive session later that evening.
Food service director Jane Yerkman also spoke with the Board regarding the health insurance costs. She asked that the Board members consider funding at the $615 per employee per month that is being funded now.
Yerkman used food service staff member Addy King as an example of how an increase would affect classified staff members. Yerkman handed out a breakdown of costs. She noted that another staff member had just left, and Yerkman would have to replace her. With higher insurance costs, Yerkman was concerned about the ability to attract and retain new employees.
“For a beginning level employee, it’s $12,549 before taxes,” she said. “If there is a higher deductible on the insurance plan and the employee has to be hospitalized, that’s $6,500 out of pocket.”
She asked the Board to consider keeping the $615 per employee per month in the budget for one more year and seeing how things look.
“It’s $30 per month times 70 employees, which is $25,000,” Yerkman calculated. “That’s 2.5 students.”
St. Baldrick’s Plaque
Gilpin County Sheriff Kevin Armstrong presented a plaque from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. This was the third year that Armstrong presented the award, which was in recognition for the school’s participation and exceptional support in finding a cure for children’s cancer.
Minutes and Consent Items
The minutes from the March 19 meeting were approved; Boulter had been absent and abstained.
The Business Manager’s Report, check vouchers, and financial statement for April were approved. General fund revenue was $795,996; expenses were $440,489.
The Board approved the first reading of a policy on District Accountability Committee (DAC) Bylaws. The DAC had met last month and reviewed the Bylaws as part of the Board policy manual update. The DAC revised the bylaws to make the language line up with Colorado Department of Education and Colorado Association of School Boards bylaws. Most of the changes concerned the roles and responsibilities of the DAC.
2019/2020 Fee Schedules
The Board reviewed and discussed three fee schedules on first reading and accepted the drafts as proposed. No decision was made at the time; a comparison will be made of last year’s fee schedules and the 2019/2020 schedules will be revisited at the first May meeting.
MacKenzie referred to the athletic/ activity/ tuition fees. He asked whether Board members wanted to raise fees at all, raise them by $2.00, or raise them by $5.00. Did they want to leave cafeteria fees the same or impose a five-cent increase, with the exception of milk, which would be left at fifty cents? There would be an increase in sports officials’ costs. Would there be any change in transportation fees?
The changes were related to inflation and were not intended as additional revenue, MacKenzie advised. All programs are supplemented by the general fund.
MacKenzie recommended leaving the schedule for building usage fees the same as last year.
MacKenzie and Swanson had put together a schedule of advertising and sponsorship fees. Swanson had done an assessment for what “reach” a vendor or organization would get for having banners in the gym or at the football field. She had also looked at the reach and cost of ad space in the Weekly Register-Call.
Holmes suggested having the size and placement of the banners be consistent for the setting of prices. He also said, “Companies are looking for a deal. If we give them a five-year deal, would they get a discount? You’d make more up-front and lock them in longer.”
Bus advertising would need to be done through a separate company. A net revenue was shown on the schedule because the company would have to be paid for its work.
Boulter felt there would be more exposure in the gym than on the field.
Swanson proposed that the schedule need more thought and said she would present it again next meeting.
Elementary Principal’s Report
Huntoon reported that parent-teacher conferences went well, with 90 percent attendance.
Students in kindergarten through second grade enjoyed a visit by author Leah Gilbert.
Huntoon thanked the PTA for providing breakfasts and snacks during CMAS testing.
The elementary school had received Accredited with Distinction and John Irwin awards. Huntoon said students would be awarded for their hard work; t-shirts will be distributed to them on May 24.
Secondary Principal’s Report
PARCC testing is finished, and CMAS testing is beginning. 9th-11th graders took PSAT and SAT tests on April 9. Booster Club provided breakfasts during testing.
On April 4, staff held an assembly to recognize students for their hard work in receiving the designation of being a district of distinction.
Prom is April 26 at the Denver Clock Tower. Booster Club will sponsor after-prom.
High school Spanish students competed in World Language Day on April 17.
Middle school gifted students will compete in the Mt. Evans’ Board of Cooperative Educational Services Logic Games.
The permit was obtained for surface water discharge on the wastewater treatment plant project.
Some excavation has been done on the atrium stairs project, which should be completed by mid-June.
MacKenzie is still waiting for the engineer’s initial concept on the stadium seating project.
A fire engineer has been determined through a school security disbursement grant. The first project will be a secured vestibule.
MacKenzie attended a meeting of Colorado district superintendents regarding the possibility of a state-wide mill levy. The levy proposed is 27. He said the measure does not appear to have much traction in the legislature, and the gist of it is that it will be up to the individual districts.
However, he said funding for full-day kindergarten is likely to pass.
The new server did not arrive before spring break on the telephone system upgrade. The server arrived the Monday following, and it is still to be determined when it will be put in place.
The public meeting was adjourned at 7:47 p.m., followed by an executive session regarding negotiations.
The next public meeting will be on Tuesday, May 7, at 7:00 p.m.