School Board adopts $3M budget

The Grand Canyon School Board last week adopted a $3 million budget for the 2005-2006 school year, a 5.4 percent increase over the previous year.

Though the spending package is about $300,000 above the $2.75 million budgeted last year, services remain fairly level, according to School Business Manager Lee Metheny. About half of the increase will go toward teacher raises ­ about $1,200 per teacher ­ and to higher payments into the state retirement system.

"There was a significant increase in what we have to pay," he said.

An estimated $1.6 million of that is expected to come from local, county, state and federal sources.

The board approved the budget in a special meeting last Thursday afternoon, following a budget hearing Tuesday, July 5. Also on July 5, the board met briefly for a special meeting to take care of some housekeeping business. There was no regular meeting scheduled for July.

After postponing a vote on extra duty pay at the June meeting because of questions about IB team leader duties, the Board heard an explanation from School IB Coordinator Becky Crumbo.

"We need people who will work forward as a team," she said. "It's not just me and the administration trying to push this but teachers becoming expert in these things and leading their peers in articulation."

Much of the responsibility would involve incorporating the Middle Years Program's five so-called areas of interaction ­ approaches to learning, community and service, health and social education, environment and homo faber, or the inventiveness of man ­ into all subjects.

"They need to be the expert in the areas of interaction," she said. "They have to take responsibility to learn these inside and out ... The other teachers would be accountable to these people."

Crumbo added that team leaders would be expected to be trainers during monthly in-service days, and would be responsible, along with the administration, for communicating with parents, students and others in the community.

She said that some teachers have already shown a willingness to take on a leadership role.

"We had some people emerge in our curriculum work this spring as teacher leaders," she said. "They both expressed an interest and they were chosen to be part of a team."

"Are all of these people still here?" asked Board member Clarinda Vail.

"They are and they are pretty excited to do it," Crumbo said.

Board President Charles Wahler noted that the extra duty schedule provided for six team leaders at $1,000 each and he asked if that was the case. Crumbo said it was for this year. Next year, she said, they will have to add leaders for each grade as well.

"We would need to get all 10th grade teachers, for example, to coordinate," she said. "If the humanities teacher is teaching about slavery, then the English teacher would be teaching Huck Finn. That wouldn't be area of interaction leaders, that would be grade level leaders...like in other schools, akin to a department chair."

The Board approved up to six extra duty position for IB area of interaction leaders, with Board member Bess Foster dissenting.

In other business:

Superintendent Sheila Breen said that after reviewing vacation and sick leave policy, she determined that the teacher handbook needs to be changed to reflect the existing policy which allowed for unlimited sick day accrual.

"Our policy reads fine," she said. "It was the misinterpretation that was the problem."

Principal Bob Kelso presented very preliminary AIMS results for 2005 but cautioned that a statistical comparison from 2003 and 2004 did not measure the same testing group.

"The 05 group is bigger," he said, explaining that in 2003 and 2004, only grades three, five and eight took the test, while 2005 grades reflected all grades from three to eight.

In all subject areas, the statistics showed a considerable increase in students meeting standards and a significant drop in those who fell far below.

"We are really getting after the kids who are in the weeds and our interventions, it seems to me, are showing some effect," he said.

According to Crumbo, results will be officially released to the public this week.

Kelso also said the district was actively recruiting new substitute teachers, after losing several from last year.

"I'm concerned about the subs," he said. "We lost several and I've heard concerns about the quality of some of the subs and we're trying to respond to that."

The Board also accepted the resignation of middle school teacher Rachel Dane, who accepted a position at an IB school in Colorado. Breen said there are three strong candidates interviewing for her position.

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