Public Comment – Even though this happened last year, I believe it is worth repeating that this Board has increased the ability for community members to address the Board. Prior to the new board, public comment was restricted to 30 minutes AND the board president could reduce the 3 minute time limit so that all who signed up to speak could during the allotted 30 minutes. Public comment was not allowed previously at work sessions/special meetings and this remains the same.
Public comment at the monthly business meeting (3rd Wednesday) is unlimited and each person is allowed three minutes. Neither the board president nor the entire board can reduce individual time limits or overall time limit for public comment.
Dual Language Immersion Program – In March the Board approved and the program will now be offered at Cottonwood and Truscott Elementary. This program came out of The Strategic Exploratory Committee chaired by board member Dr. Carl Langner. Based upon the feedback from the survey sent out last November, the need for this program was a high priority for parents in the district. Toni Theisen, who is a World Language teacher, has taken the lead in putting this program together which will begin this fall for Kindergarten classes. For the brochure click here. Note: The Board should have asked for a proforma budget for this new program so that the actual impact to the district budget would be disclosed.
Early Childhood Center @ HPA – The board approved the use of approximately $856,000 from reserves to build the center as part of the new High Plains K-8 school. Note: The Board should have asked for a more detailed report outlining the operational costs in detail, the projected revenue from IDEA, Colo. Preschool and Head Start grants, projected revenue from tuition paying slots and the projected amount potentially needed from reserves to cover the operational deficit.
Career Center Pilot – At the June 17th meeting the board voted (as part of the 2015-16 budget) to fund a pilot career center (budgeted cost is $93k) which will be located at the admin building on Taft Ave. The committee to research the Career Center was chaired by board member Pam Howard.
Master Plan Committee – The Board approved the “Thompson Reinvented” concept, which the MPC describes as building new schools, consolidating schools, and migrating schools to K-8 configurations. The MPC will now report quarterly to the BOE the progress of developing a comprehensive plan that “improves efficiency, identifies growth needs, school consolidations and school reconfigurations for the district by February, 2016.” Note: The MPC, under the guidance and direction of Dr. Maas, has taken the plan to a new level with the creation of the Facility Scorecards. I recommend everyone take a look at these scorecards.
Staff Compensation & Benefits – The Board approved as part of the 2015-16 budget for all eligible licensed staff to move receive steps/columns which on average is a 2.67% salary increase. Note: last year the board approved a 1.5% increase in the base salary amounts on the salary schedules as well as approved steps/columns for eligible licensed staff. The Board last year also increased the starting pay for teachers from $32,329 to $35,338
All classified and APT staff will also receive a 2.67% salary increase on average.
Also for classified staff, the minimum wage has been increased to $10 per hour and all staff below this rate after the 2.67% raise is applied, will have their hourly pay adjusted to up to the new minimum wage of $10 per hour. Note: Last year the Board increased the pay rate for licensed substitutes.
Health Insurance premium increase for employee coverage will again be paid by the district
PERA (retirement benefit) increase will also be paid for by the district. Effective January 1, 2016, the PERA rate for the district will increase from 18.35% to 19.15% and the employee contribution rate will remain at 8%. Example: A TSD employee earning $40,000 per year will contribute $3200 for their PERA retirement and the district will contribute $7,660 towards the employee’s PERA retirement.