A potential mill levy override was discussed at the Montezuma-Cortez School District RE-1’s regular board meeting Tuesday night, although uncertainties remain regarding the prospects of such a measure.
Putting another mill levy override up for voters’ approval has been mulled over in recent months by the board and staff members alike as a way to increase teacher salaries.
But many of the details about the proposal are hazy, in large part because of legislation pending at the state level that would establish a uniform school mill levy across Colorado.
At last month’s meeting, board members reported out some conversations they’d had with teachers at the respective school campuses, all of whom expressed the need for higher pay, with some more optimistic than others regarding the prospects of a mill levy override passing.
Montezuma County Commissioner Jim Candelaria, though, attended the meeting and objected to the proposal, saying that the board should instead focus on doing “more with less” and establishing community trust.
“I don’t think mill levy increases are going to work,” he said, adding that residential taxpayers deserve a break.
At this week’s meeting, eighth-grade language arts teacher Cody Childers expressed an opposing viewpoint, saying that he was speaking on behalf of his colleagues, many of whom could not attend such meetings because of side jobs and other responsibilities that arise from being “vastly underpaid,” he said.
“We are willing to fight for this,” Childers said. “We are willing to put some of our personal time, which is already so small, to help with this.”
Board members noted that they would have to decide soon whether to put the override on the upcoming ballot. Superintendent Lori Haukeness suggested they meet in a separate workshop before the next board meeting to delve into more specific details.
Other news‰ The board unanimously approved the 2019-20 school calendar. Director of human resources Dan Porter especially highlighted that they had tried to meet teachers’ requests for more clearly delineated work days, and also noted the most substantial change of all – switching the middle and high schools back to a semester system.‰ Board members unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding for the Children’s Kiva Montessori School.According to Superintendent Haukeness, the MOU specifically outlines what the school needs to do in order to retain its charter.
“If the charter school fails to meet any of the said criteria within the MOU, then they will surrender the charter to the board,” she said.
Kiva has been facing funding and enrollment challenges over the past year. At the previous board meeting, directors decided to allow the school a few additional months to meet district standards.
‰ The board unanimously approved school safety grants to upgrade the district’s fire system and implement a Raptor system, which is used to better screen school visitors.‰ Directors unanimously approved bids for a new light system and its installation at the Panthers Stadium.‰ The board approved the $216,975 purchase of three new buses, which includes one special-needs bus.This story was updated on March 25 to reflect the correct title of Montezuma County Commissioner Jim Candelaria.