School Board Meeting Report
Susan E. Little | 12/14/07
Tuesday, December 11 marked the last 2007 Board of Education meeting of the Archuleta School District 50 Joint. 

After the roll call, Tim Mayberry, auditor from Johnson, Holscher and Company, P.C. discussed the 45-page Financial Audit report.  Copies of this report are available to the public at the administration building.

Summarizing before he began discussing individual sections of the report, Mayberry said, “the district is in good shape, financially and the staff are to be commended on a job well done.”

Section 1 of the audit addresses the question of how the financial picture differs this year from 2006. For instance, Mayberry said due to a drop in enrollment in 2007, the general fund is less in the 2007 school year than in 2006. Section 2 of the audit contains balance sheets that include capital assets, net assets, debt, trust accounts, and pupil activity accounts such as monies from fundraisers.

Although it appears there is money available when  $9.5 million in debt is subtracted from $15 million in capital assets, Mayberry explained, “This is not the case because there are many other considerations such as servicing the debt. However, there is a 3% fund to pay for emergencies such as roof repair or school bus replacement. Money can be ‘borrowed’ for emergencies, but the amount must be paid back into the emergency reserve fund by June 30 of the same school year.”  The TABOR Act requires that all withdrawals from the emergency fund must be paid back by the end of that school year, so that the reserve money is maintained.

Sections 3 through 7 of the financial audit cover costs, liabilities, grants, income, balance sheets and insurance.  Section 3 deals with the cost of educating students which in our district is $6.2 million for grades K-12. The state of Colorado supplies about $5 million toward this amount and the remainder comes from property taxes.  Section 4 lists liabilities such as accrued salaries and benefits of school district employees. 

Regarding education grants, Mayberry explained, “in a best case scenario, grant monies ‘zero out’ so that grants may be renewed each year.” The yearly income statement is given in Section five of the audit report. One change from the 2006 income statement is the $190,000 that was taken from the general fund due to the drop in enrollment in the Archuleta school district this school year.

In conclusion, Mayberry said, “district staff deserves a pat on the back for their diligence and full disclosure of all financial information.”

Next, was the presentation of certificates to members of  Ms. Lucero’s fourth grade class for their published short stories in local Pagosa parenting magazine, The B.R.A.T. Although their teacher was not able to attend due to a 4H meeting, four student authors were accompanied by principal, Kate Lister to be congratulated and to receive a certificate.   Continued...
BRAT Writers
Students from Ms. Lucero's fourth grade received awards for publishing their stories in local parenting magazine, The B.R.A.T. From left are Melanie Montoya, Tyler Cowan, Annalee Nevarez, Regan Richardson. (Not present, Carson McKee). Also shown are Board Secretary Linda Lattin (seated, right) and Board president Matt Aragon (far right) and Pagosa Springs Elementary School principal Kate Lister (center back.)  Photo by Susan E. Little.
Tyler  Cowan was asked about his recipe for "dragon stew" from his story “”The Black and Blue Dragon” by new board member and former caterer, Joanne Irons.

Gwen Taylor, local scientific editor and member of S.P.O.R.T. (Support Pagosa Open space, Recreation center and Trails), asked board members to consider “sending a position letter by January 4, 2008 to the Pagosa Springs Town Council about their opinion on expanded recreation in Pagosa and whether the issue should be put on the ballot. The public will have an opportunity to vote on the ballot if the issue appears on the April 08 or November 08 ballot.  Taylor felt the position of the school board is relevant because “ the recreation issue impacts students.”
The proposed recreation facility is to be located between Pagosa High School and the outdoor sports complex. One advantage of this site, Taylor explained, is that the town already owns this property.

December 12,2007 was the third and final meeting in Town Hall to review architects plans for the recreation center facility.  Funds to build the proposed recreation center are to come from a 1% sales tax at all Town of Pagosa businesses. When asked how the businesses felt about the sales tax, Taylor said, “there are mixed opinions.” Expansion of trails in the proposed project is to be funded partly from monies from the Colorado Lottery. For more information on the proposed Recreation facility and Trails expansion please search Pagosa Daily Post articles.

Bill Esterbrook, Assistant Superintendent, discussed the recent school report cards reminding the board members and the audience “there should never be a knee jerk reaction to these scores. What is important is the causes and effects, the foundations of our education, and how kids are learning.” The scores this year were an improvement from last year.

Pagosa Springs Elementary improved from ‘average and declining’ in 2006 to ‘average and improving’ in 2007 ”. Pagosa Springs Intermediate rated “significant improvement” over the “average” rating in 2006. Also, Pagosa Springs Junior High and High School received better ratings. Esterbrook emphasized that this is a “K-12 issue. We won’t see improvement at the high school unless excellence is fostered in all lower grades. I like our chances in this district.”

Superintendent Mark DeVoti agreed.

After Nancy Schutz discussed mill levy certification and a BOCES report was given, the procedure for school delays and closures due to weather was explained by the Superintendent. DeVoti said that decisions to delay school or cancel school involve “gathering information from multiple professionals including the Colorado Department of Transportation, the school district transportation director, district school bus drivers, Archuleta County Road and Bridge, snow plow drivers and dispatchers and local weather forecasting sources."

"Snow levels vary according to the area and 500 feet of elevation can make quite a difference”, said DeVoti. “School buses drive over 975 miles daily and the drivers are professionals who understand student safety. Drivers pull out very early for Chromo and Cat Springs, for example, and decisions must be made so that automated phone messages can be sent to every student’s home between 5 am and 7am if school is to be delayed or closed for the day.

Also, two television stations and six radio stations report delays or closures. These include TV2-KWGn and 9News on television and the following radio stations: FM 106.3/KWUF, AM 1400/ KWUF, AM 850 /KOA and FM 105.3/KSUT and FM 95.7/KPCL.  In addition, parents may phone 970-264-0392 ext. 613 or may check the web at for information on delays or closures.

DeVoti pointed out that a letter discussing all this information was sent home from each school to parents on Tuesday, December 4, 2007.

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