Dolores school board discusses budget and hiring process

Tuesday, June 19, 2018 3:26 PM
The Dolores school board met for its regular meeting on Thursday evening.
Dolores school board Vice President Kay Phelps gives a celebration report during Thursday’s board meeting.

The Dolores School District Re-4 board on Thursday discussed the district’s hiring techniques and proposed deficit budget.

The discussion began after board treasurer Casey McClellan moved all personnel approvals from the consent calendar to discussion at the beginning of the meeting. The motion passed unanimously.

“I think we should never have the approval of personnel on a consent agenda. I think we ought to always be a little more active here in what we do,” McClellan said.

McClellan believed that instead of just a recommendation from the superintendent, the board should be given information about each candidate before approving them. He also was concerned that the interview process did not involve parents.

“There are parents sitting in here that have been on every team I have had this year,” secondary school Principal Jen Hufman said.

Members of the audience then responded that they wanted to be on hiring committees.

Elementary Principal Gary Livick and Interim Superintendent Phil Kasper spoke in favor of letting administrators focus on hiring.

“I am uncomfortable with any recommendation for hire not going through me, so I would prefer to be the one that makes the recommendation to the board and the board’s questions about process,” Kasper said. “Who is on the committee? That is kind of an internal process between administration that if we fall down and do not get it done, we have one or two people accountable.”

After nearly 45 minutes of discussion, the board entered executive session to discuss each potential new hire and pursue a community email list for nonparents who wish to be involved in the hiring process.

In other business, the board discussed the preliminary 2018-2019 fiscal year budget.

According to district finance director Doreen Jones, the district is looking at a $500,000 deficit in the preliminary budget that does not include carry-forward funds from the 2017-2018 school year.

“With just the budget without the additional requests – strictly revenues against expenditures – we are $428,000 deficit with that,” Jones said. “If we add all proposed additional requests, we would be $507,000 in deficit. This is just strictly revenues and expenditures – it does not consider any beginning balance or carry-forward balance, which usually we do have.”

Jones asked for direction from the board before presenting the preliminary budget at the June 26 board meeting.

After some discussion, the board decided to hold a special meeting on June 20 at 5 p.m. to address budget issues.

The board also voted 3-1 to approve a memorandum of agreement with Southwest Open School for the school-based health center. President Dee Prock was absent.

McClellan voted no after a discussion with the SWOS clinic about costs. “Nay on the grounds that we do not have a grasp on these costs,” he said.

“Utilities have been estimated at $200 per month, the janitorial will be taken care of by current staff, we would be responsible to maintain our buildings as we maintain all our buildings,” Superintendent Scott Cooper said.

Cooper also briefed the board about the fire incident command at the high school, saying that the district was assured that it would be compensated for damages and utility costs.

Three citizens addressed the board.

Kristin Pejsa voiced concern about hiring qualified staff, noting that her son decided to transfer to Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 High School for his senior year to improve his math scores.

Tiffany Nichols, concerned about losing staff and students asked the board and administrators to conduct exit surveys and make them public. She also asked the board to hire an “enrichment program coordinator,” who would organize school activities.

Heather McIntyre, a Boettcher teacher resident, asked the board to consider compensating Boettcher teachers. “It is an unpaid internship, and it is a financial burden that we have all chosen to bear, but if you all could figure out a way to support that in the future, or even as soon as this year, it would be money well spent,” she said.

Amy Lewis, one of the circulators of petitions to recall Prock and board director Vangi McCoy, was listed on the agenda, but was not present.

Other board actionThe board unanimously approved the resignation of middle school special ed teacher Taylor Farquharson, preschool para Cristy Gomez, preschool teacher Elizabeth Edwards and secondary social worker Nick Maez.In executive session, the board discussed job candidates including secondary P.E. teacher Jeromie Schumacher, elementary counselor Courtney “Leigh” Dickinson, K-12 GT coordinator Connie Copenhaver, second-grade teacher Amanda Kuster, middle school football coach James Salzbrenner, girls basketball head coach Monica Steinberger and high school head coach Dylan Ferguson.In an email to The Journal on Tuesday, Jones reported that all candidates were hired with the exception of the high school football coach candidate Dylan Ferguson. According to Jones, the position has been advertised again.