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School board adopts resolution on Amendment 66, recruits parents for campaign committee

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Unsportsmanlike conduct episode also examined

By Patty Unruh

The Gilpin County Board of Education held its regular meeting October 7 at 7 p.m. Vice President Brook Ramsey conducted the meeting, with President Craig Holmes participating by telephone. Also present were members Charlotte Taylor, Kersten Armstrong, and Rusty Hardy, and Superintendent David Mackenzie. An executive session was also held during the meeting.

Resolution Regarding Amendment 66

The Board adopted a resolution not to support passage of Amendment 66 in the November elections. The state-wide amendment would increase state income tax rates for the purpose of increasing funding of public education. The Board says if the amendment passes, an increased mill levy as high as 10.12 mills and increased property taxes paid by Gilpin County School District taxpayers may result.

The Board’s resolution states that the school district has faced multiple years of budget shortfalls, resulting in more than $1.4 million in cuts and lost funding from the state of Colorado; the District continues to experience financial challenges due to “persistent economic constraints, declines in revenues, and increases in fixed costs such as insurance, fuel, and utilities.”

The District partners with the City of Black Hawk in an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA), which provides a 1.5 percent educational enhancement tax on food, beverages, and lodging that has been used for educational purposes for Gilpin’s students. This tax revenue has supplemented the reduced funding that the District has not been receiving from the federal and state governments and allows the District to keep the total mill levy for Gilpin County Schools at 8 mills or less. The tax will continue to generate revenue for this purpose, resulting in the Board acting to reduce the mill levy to about 6.274 mills proportionate to the increase in the educational enhancement tax revenue. The partnership between Black Hawk and the Board reduces property tax for homeowners and business owners, the resolution states.

The Board’s resolution also sets forth that the monies generated by a 1.699 mill levy override go directly to the school district and are locally controlled by the Board.

Mill Levy Override

The Board conducted a work session September 19 to recruit parents to form a committee to campaign for the proposed mill levy override. Parents and community members Kevin Armstrong, Mary Lorenz, Gigetta Nadeau, Nancy Larsen and Board candidate Steve Boulter were present at the work session.

At that meeting, Holmes handed out a “Frequently Asked Questions” sheet with details about the proposed mill levy override, stating that the override will not violate the District’s IGA with the City of Black Hawk; in fact, he said it would improve and strengthen the District’s relationship with Black Hawk. The education enhancement received from Black Hawk is expected to increase over the next few years due to development and expansion. However, Holmes said, the District needs money now, and the proposed mill levy override “will help to provide money to make much needed improvements to the school, such as update technology, on-site school resource officer, teacher training, and retention and hiring of teaching staff.”

Holmes advised the parents that the School Board cannot head the campaign; rather, it needs to be done by an outside source. District employees are not allowed to participate during school time or on school grounds, but they are permitted to help on their time off. The use of school equipment is not permitted. It was established that the Booster Club and the Parent Teacher Association could help, as they are all volunteers and not school employees.

The campaign committee officers are Kevin Armstrong, President; Gigetta Nadeau, Vice President; Mary Lorenz, Treasurer; and Nancy Larsen, Secretary. The committee held a meeting October 8 to address school staff, and a town hall meeting October 15 at 7 p.m. in the school auditorium will also be held.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct at Volleyball Game

The Board discussed unsportsmanlike conduct displayed by Nederland High School spectators at a volleyball game in Nederland on September 10 between the Nederland and Gilpin teams. Superintendent Mackenzie sent a letter October 1 by email and postal service to Bruce Messinger, Superintendent of the Boulder Valley School District, detailing the incident and requesting a written apology to Gilpin’s players and fans and to provide in writing what Nederland administrators had done or would be doing to address inappropriate behavior by spectators at athletic events. As Gilpin will host Nederland in volleyball on October 17, Mackenzie requested a written response by October 15.

Mackenzie said in the letter that he had not attended the game, but advised that there were first-hand witness reports and cell phone videos to confirm the conduct. The witnesses observed persons who appeared to be male students who painted their chests with the word “Gilpin” and their backs with the word “sucks” and also chanted those words. The students ran next to the Gilpin team huddle without shirts on and out onto the playing floor. The Nederland mascot was “unreasonably” close to the Gilpin head volleyball coach; apparently, the two of them made contact more than once during the match. The letter stated that heckling also occurred as Gilpin athletes served the ball.

One Gilpin player did react to taunts from Nederland spectators by “flipping off” the Nederland crowd and was suspended by Gilpin’s head volleyball coach from playing at the next game, Mackenzie advised in the letter.

Mackenzie explained to the Board that the day after the Nederland game, Gilpin’s athletic director, Jeff Scheussler, attempted to contact Nederland athletic director Jack Taylor, and the two “played phone tag.” Then the area was hit by flooding, and Nederland was out of school for a time. Finally, Schuessler did speak with Taylor on September 20 by telephone and reported that Taylor apologized about the incident.

Schuessler also reported the unsportsmanlike conduct to the Colorado High School Activities Assocation (CHSAA).

Neither Mackenzie nor the Board members were aware of attempts to stop the behavior at the time of the game.

Gilpin won the game 3-1.

CASB Convention

The 73rd Annual Convention of the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) will be held December 5-8 at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. A CASB brochure states that the focus of the convention is on “helping school boards and superintendents build upon a foundation of leadership excellence.” The convention is a learning and networking experience bringing together more than 1,000 board members, school district leaders, and content experts.

Robin Cortez reported that all Board members who would be attending were signed up and reservations made. The CASB brochure lists the convention cost for CASB members at $345 per person for December 6-8 and $135 for the preconvention session on December 5. The Gilpin School District is a member of CASB.

Employment Contracts

The Board approved substitute contracts for Angela Austin and Jacqueline Boron, and for Arlene Garcia for food services. They also approved a contract for Addy King for food services, as well as contracts for Elizabeth Worley and Tara King.

School Board Candidates

Mackenzie informed the Board that he had received requests for candidates for upcoming school board vacancies to have a question and answer session for the public. He asked who might sponsor such a session. Holmes recalled that last time candidates ran for school board, Student Council (STUCO) sponsored the event. He said, “It was held in the auditorium. Teacher Su Henry was the moderator, and she asked questions that the students had submitted.” It was decided to hold the Q & A on the tentative date of October 24 at 7 p.m. in the school auditorium.

Policies

The Board went through 27 policies on first reading, all recommended for school board use by CASB. The policies included conduct of school board members, superintendent, and staff; financial disclosure regulations for school board members; conflict of interest and ethics policies; family and medical leave policies; hiring, evaluation, and discipline of staff; preschool council; and disposal of school properties, among other policies.

Several of the policies, such as those on family and medical leave, contained new language required by the State of Colorado regarding “partners in a civil union and/or domestic partners” due to recent passage of civil unions law.

Work Session on SRO

The Board conducted a work session September 11 with the Gilpin County Commissioners, Buddy Schmalz, Gail Watson, and Connie McLain to discuss having a school resource officer (SRO) at the school. The Commissioners were willing to discuss a combined funding for the SRO, with Schmalz stating that the position would have to be defined and agreed upon by all parties and an Intergovernmental Agreement created. Estimated total compensation for an SRO was $73,602. The Board is willing to pay half of the compensation for a full-time SRO, up to $35,000. Until a full-time SRO is hired, the Sheriff’s Office is paying overtime so a deputy can be at the school full time. Holmes stated the Board is willing to supplement the full-time officer overtime pay by half if the County would pay the other half.

At the work session, the Board approved directing the Superintendent to present a proposal to the Commissioners for a full-time SRO in which the District would pay $35,000 per year and in which the District would split the hourly overtime rate with the County for eight hours a day, four days a week until an SRO was hired, trained, and in place at the school.

Superintendent’s Report

Mackenzie noted that on the October 1 student count day, the number of students enrolled in grades preschool through 12 was 422. The funded count is projected to be ten to 15 students above last year’s count. Specific numbers would be available on Wednesday, October 9.

He also said that the security camera was moved and mounted above the downstairs entry door, giving front-desk secretary Robin Cortez a head-on full view of people who come to make deliveries prior to her giving them building access.

The school purchased three additional microwaves, allowing students to use a total of seven microwaves.

The Internet service was working well, but Mackenzie commented there were some issues with power outages during recent heavy rains.

A new bus was delivered and put into service for the week of October 7. The Dodge van had one bid for $1,000, which was accepted, and the van has been sold.

The Superintendent also reported on supplemental salaries for coaching assignments; he said the number of coaches and assistants was a result in the number of student participants. A $500 stipend for football field line painting was added, including initial line measuring and painting, repainting during the season, and preparation for the homecoming game with the addition of end zone graphics.

The safety committee will meet October 16 for final preparation for an evacuation drill for students and staff October 23 to the evacuation site at Gilpin County Public Works Department.

Congratulations and Celebrations

The middle school football team won October 7 in double overtime in its away game against North Park. The high school volleyball and football seasons were going well. Mackenzie said that secretary to the Board Robin Cortez was doing a great job on preparing for the election on the mill levy override, with no missed deadlines.

Next Meeting

  The next meeting of the Board will be October 21 at 7 p.m.

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