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School DAC annual report addresses nutrition and wellness, gifted and talented program

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BOE hears student authors and animal rescue activists

by Patty Unruh

The Gilpin County Board of Education met on Monday, May 16. Board members present were Craig Holmes, Brook Ramsey, Charlotte Taylor, and Steve Boulter; Kirsten Armstrong was absent. Also present were Superintendent David MacKenzie, Secondary Principal Alexis Donaldson, and Secretary to the Board Gretchen Sechler.

Artist Recognition

Fourth grader Vincent Garcia was the artist for April, recognized for his portrait project, which was done like a still image from an Iron Man movie, with Vincent cast as the popular hero.

Chad Holmes, ninth grade, was the May artist. Chad’s stellar space transformation project was a clay sculpture of a tree morphing into a Star Wars TIE fighter. “It was a difficult piece,” advised art teacher Curt Halsted. “Chad was very meticulous.”

Congratulations and Celebrations

Montessori teacher Katie Yocom saved the life of a student last week. The student was choking on food in the cafeteria and was not breathing. Yocom administered the Heimlich maneuver several times, the piece of food popped out, and the student began breathing again. School resource officer Lee Ramsey said, “Katie did an excellent job.” Yocom was acknowledged this week before the student body at Safety Day.

Gilpin’s high school baseball team missed the playoffs by one game. Holding a 5-3 record, they had tied for first place with two other league teams, but missed qualifying for the playoffs by one game.

The high school graduation took place on May 14. Graduates received $404,900 in scholarships.

Montessori Authors

Students from the upper and lower Montessori grades presented two books they had published recently. Children from Suzanne Diekman’s fourth and fifth grade class partnered with Monica Ruhl’s lower elementary class to produce several short stories and poems. Aucklynn Sacco, Cala Weger, and Anna Thomason described the writing process and read two selections to the Board.

“It was fun and challenging to work with our partners and to meet deadlines,” the three said.

Animal Activists

Montessori students also reported on results of bake sale fundraisers they had conducted to help endangered animals. Aucklynn Sacco, Linda Icenogle, Jordanna Gagnon, and Russell Wood raised $756.39 in the past few months to benefit Mission Wolf, the Black Ferret Recovery Program, and the Wild Animal Sanctuary.

“We talked over some ideas for the bake sales and went to Dr. Dave [MacKenzie] and Mr. Eldred [the elementary principal] for approval,” the students noted. “We had sales from March 1 through April 29, when we auctioned baked goods at the Montessori spaghetti dinner. We also had a bake sale during parent-teacher nights in March.”

The group also held a contest with the other Montessori classes, where students would donate their coins and dollars. The money was collected in jars, tallied, and the amounts shown on a graph. When all funds were collected, the students sent letters with their donations to the animal rescue groups, introducing themselves as SAFE – Saving Animals Fundraising Events.

The students hope to repeat the project annually.

DAC Report

Mary Sonsino, Chair of the District Accountability Committee (DAC), presented the annual report. The charges given to the DAC from the Board of Education for the year were teacher evaluation (SB 191), the Unified Improvement Plans (SB-09-163), the gifted and talented program, nutrition and wellness, and district budget changes for the 2016-17 year.

With respect to teacher evaluation, 90 percent of the teachers received a “proficient” or higher rating.

Regarding the Uniform Improvement Plans, the DAC report noted, “The district is staying aligned with state core and will continue the district assessment with STAR testing and review of prior year TCAP scores.” Some students are progressing, teachers have on-going training and professional development, and students are working on technology. Students who need help are getting intervention, the math curriculum has been changed, Friday school is available, and progress monitoring is being done.

Differentiated instruction will be provided for gifted and talented (GT) students. Upper elementary and middle school GT students are working with the Brainology program, which helps students understand how the brain works. High school GT students are planning a social event with other high school students through the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) area. Mr. Newberg’s social studies class came up with a new flavor for Oohgies Popcorn last fall.

Jane Yerkman, Food Services Director, had presented the DAC with an update on the cafeteria. The district website now contains information about a summer food program through the state where families can get assistance with meals during the summer. A new menu was implemented last school year that is 51 percent whole grain per state requirements. Two new distributors are delivering ala carte items that meet those requirements, and ala carte sales have increased. Beverages are offered that meet the Colorado Healthy Beverage Act requirements. For the first time in five years, health inspections revealed no violations. The cafeteria is using decomposable trays. Infinite Campus on the school’s website can now accept point of sale. About 30 percent of lunches are free and reduced.

The DAC explained that PE teacher Aaron Moran coordinates the wellness program and will produce his own fitness program, create recognition boards, and award individual student accomplishments. Several students have participated and have surpassed the national average.

Terry Scharg, the school business manager, gave the DAC general information about the district’s budget. The district’s main funding is based on student count and divided between state and county property taxes using a formula. Gilpin’s current per pupil operating revenue is $8,862. If the student count drops below 409 next year, the state will average the last five year counts and use that number for funding. Scharg had provided the DAC with the current year budget showing revenue and expenditures and explaining the budget format. She also presented the proposed budget for 2016-17.

Consent Items

The Board approved the business manager’s report, check vouchers, and financial statement for April 2016. Revenue for the preliminary June budget for 2016-17 projects revenue and expenses of $5,485,816. The revised adopted budget for 2015-16 shows total revenue and expenses of $5,295,497. Year to date (through April 21, 2016) revenue is $3,532,108 and expenses are $4,100,718.

Significant changes to the adopted June budget for 2016-17 show $78,172 in revenue projected from the new Gilpin Foundation Convenience Store that is to open in June and $107,396 in carryover from a small rural schools grant from 2015-16. $257,170 in expense changes include an increase to partial contract custodial services, an increase in staff salaries, and renegotiated health benefits. $400,000 is planned for property improvements, $70,000 for the purchase of a new small vehicle, and a reduction of $114,600 in equipment leases to one year vs.an entire lease term.

The Board intends to review the 2016-17 proposed budget more thoroughly at its next meeting.

Personnel Matters

The Board accepted the resignation of the following teachers, effective May 26: Lindsey Litgen, second grade; Meghan Mangan, third grade; Jennifer Turkaly, Montessori lower elementary; Nina Mohr, preschool. The Board approved the hire/contract for Lindsey Litgen and Laura Tallman as elementary summer school teachers, effective June 6.

Administration Reports

Secondary Principal Donaldson gave a huge shout-out to the Gilpin Booster Club for the countless hours they put in through the final last weeks of school. She congratulated the graduated seniors. A few corrections to the scholarship list were noted. Donaldson and ten secondary teachers will attend the Tointon Teacher Leadership Academy in Vail from May 31-June 3. Many of the students, staff, and parents will volunteer to help again this year for the Dirty 30 trail race, which raises funds for the school’s athletic department.

Superintendent MacKenzie listed several upcoming events for the elementary students, including Safety Day to be held on May 19. The new elementary principal, Heather Huntoon, has conducted individual teacher and staff meetings. The elementary spring writing assessment was held on May 11; the students showed improvement in handwriting and mechanics since the last evaluation.

MacKenzie advised that review and revision of the Strategic Plan 2020 was in progress. He was waiting to hear back from the civil engineer with an update on site plan improvements. Elementary STAR testing just completed showed that 90 percent of the students tested at or above grade level in math, and MacKenzie anticipated that the reading and literacy scores will be as good when that testing is finished. He attributed the upward trend to aligned curriculum.

MacKenzie said the school has had a too-high discharge level of total dissolved solids in its waste water and has been working on a bio-augmentation pilot study from November-April. The level is coming down within range. The study will be done again from August-February. Board President Holmes said, “If this works with us as the pilot school, it may help other rural school districts who are not currently in compliance.”

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be Tuesday, June 7, at 7:00 p.m.

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