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Teamwork keeps Gilpin Schools progressing

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Gilpin County School Board April 20th Meeting

By Curt Halsted

Praise Shared for Meet and Confer Process

At the April 20th meeting of the Gilpin County School Board, board members honored Board Secretary, Joni Schmidt. Among other things, Joni takes the board minutes and updates the policies that can be found on the school website. Many staff member’s shared praise for the Board’s work during the meet and confer process over teacher contracts. Fourth grade teacher Susan Sepanik praised the board for the many volunteer hours they have put in to consider the salary schedule proposal put forward by the staff leadership committee. She felt the salary discussions were equitable, and said “It really helps us feel valued and respected.” While considering the salary increase schedule, board member Joe Marr commented that he worried we may be overextending a bit. Board President Steve Boulter countered that he did not think we were overextending, but “we have to watch it, maybe push for a mill levy increase this fall and continue to work with Black Hawk.” He went on to say that gaming tax revenue is up, and that he thinks that everyone deserves it (salary increases), and it has been a very tough year.” He also shared praise for everyone who has worked so hard on the process. The board finished the meeting with an executive session and is expected to finalize any changes to the salary schedule at the May 4th meeting. If you would like to share praise, concerns, or information with the school board, but don’t want to attend the meeting in person, you can use the newly approved “Communicate with the Board” form in the “Our District” section of the school’s website.

Adjusted Policy for Support of Students who are Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Given First Reading

After the board approved consent items, board member Cherokee Blake thanked Dr. Dave (Superintendent MacKenzie) for all the effort he put in for her concerns and the changes that were made. Dr. Dave pointed out that he worked with the schools attorney to make, and also adjusted the policy to include staff who may be transgender and gender nonconforming. Due to the extensive changes to the policy, it is being put forward as a first reading and will be voted on, at the second reading at the next meeting.

Fee Schedule to Remain Mostly the Same for 2021/22

Dr. Mackenzie shared that the fees for building use, student fees and advertising fees for next year will only be changed slightly in athletics to make them easier to understand by assessing the same fee for every sport. He also shared that the free lunch and breakfast funding to assist with the pandemic has been continued all the way through the end of the 2021/22 school year. The board approved the first reading of the fee schedules and will do a final vote upon the second reading at the next meeting. The board went on to review activity funds and how they will be accounted for in the future.

Elementary Staff Show Teamwork

Elementary Principal Heather Huntoon praised her staff for continuing with established teacher expectations as well as new demands put forth by the pandemic. She also was very grateful to her staff for being flexible and pitching in to help fill in gaps that occur due to the pandemic. She pointed out that positive testing data is coming in and hopes it will continue to show students are “green,” meaning they are progressing as expected.

Potential Quarantines and Mask Wearing

Huntoon shared that they had two quarantines in the Elementary. Dr. Dave said that the COVID related quarantines are a good thing as they protect the students from spreading any potential virus. He also said that he anticipates more quarantines as protections are being relaxed. After reviewing the risk status established by the state, he commented that mask wearing will likely continue until the end of the school year. He was happy to share that the school safety grant was extended by the Department of Homeland Security as the improvements are progressing, but not complete due to complications from the pandemic.

United Power’s Emergency Generator

Dr. Dave shared that work continues on the onsite emergency generator being built by United Power. The generator will provide emergency power for the school campus and neighboring community during power outages and peak energy use times. He said that the diesel powered generator was not powered by natural gas due to the pipe not being large enough and that United Power is progressing in their implementation of green energy, mostly solar, and was hopeful that someday it would be upgraded.

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