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Classes getting "overloaded" at Chatfield High School

Fri, Nov 20th, 2009
Posted in Education

The Chatfield School Board met for its regular meeting on November 16, 2009. All members but one were present. A large audience from the community also attended the meeting.

The main topic of discussion before the board was finance. Alan Anderson, who performed the audit for the 2008-2009 year, was present to share the results of the audit and answer questions. Overall, he reported that the audit went well and has been accepted by the state. However, he did show some concern over the district's deficit spending. Last year, the district overspent their budget by $176,000. This coming year, the deficit is expected to rise to $400,000, though the estimate could change based on state legislation and federal funding. Board chair Jerry Chase agreed with Anderson's concern saying that the board recognized that their budget was out of balance and that they would either need to pass an operating levy or have the state bail them out. However, Anderson stated that the district "will be okay with careful planning" and that the time gap involved in budgeting often makes such planning difficult.

On a different financial note, Chase shared the results of recent teacher negotiations. Because of the district's deficit and the recent building projects, the district felt they could not afford to give their teachers a raise without asking the voters for more money. As a result, there are "no real negotiations going on," according to Chase. He and board member F. Mike Tuohy briefly reminded the board that the state is also having budget trouble and that this could affect the amount of money available to fund teaching positions in the district. High school Principal Randy Paulson shared that some high school classes are being overloaded and that, as a result, some classes that would have over forty students must be broken up into additional sections. The district has faced a small increase in teacher salaries already due to this overloading and the need for additional classes.

Principal Paulson also gave a short presentation on Chatfield students' ACT scores over the years. The ACT is a test given to measure high school students' college readiness. Paulson pointed out that the test is "curriculum-based," and that Chatfield Schools have a strong focus on their curriculum. Overall, Chatfield scores have increased since 2004, with this past year being the first that the district's average has surpassed that of the state. The district has also seen an increase in the number of students taking the test each year. Currently, 38 percent of Chatfield seniors are ready for college in the "core areas" of math, language, science, and reading; Paulson said that he is aiming to see 50 percent of seniors college-ready by 2012.

Several smaller topics relating to the completion of the building construction were also brought before the board. The pole shed at the elementary building is mostly completed. The softball fields at the high school are also progressing. Superintendent Donald Hainlen discussed a request to increase the number of hours in the custodial positions at the new elementary. This request was approved by the board after McMahon jokingly suggested that the board members simply split up the extra hours to save on costs. Hainlen also told the board that bills from the current projects should be in by December, so the board can start seriously discussing their list of additional projects then.

The board will next meet for their regular meeting on December 21, 2009. A "Truth in Taxation" Hearing will also be held at this date. All community members are welcome to attend.

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