Grand Lake parents demand another teacher at elementary school | SkyHiNews.com

Grand Lake parents demand another teacher at elementary school

by Will Bublitz
Sky-Hi Daily News

Next school year’s budget and a request for an additional teacher at one of the district’s schools dominated discussion at Tuesday night’s meeting of the East Grand Board of Education.

During the meeting held at the District Office in Granby, about a dozen parents of Grand Lake Elementary’s third grade students asked the board to end the “multi-age class” at that school. Currently, second and third graders are in the same class with one teacher.

Chris Tarr, spokesman for the Grand Lake parents, said they were “dissatisfied with the education that our children are getting” in the multi-age class which he claimed as “slowing down” and “diluting” the third graders’ education. To deal with that situation, he said some third-grade parents were paying for out-of-school tutors to “supplement” their children’s education.

To remedy this problem, Tarr said the parents wanted the district to hire an additional teacher for Grand Lake Elementary so each grade can have a full-time teacher. To pay for the additional teacher, he suggested the school might have to “prioritize” by making cutbacks in such subjects as art and music because “academics should be first.”

In response, Superintendent Robb Rankin explained that the combined class at the Grand Lake school was a budgeting decision based upon the small numbers of students in those grades. He said the ultimate solution is to “attract more numbers” to the school which has seen its enrollment drop into the 60s in recent years.

Rankin also pointed out that under the proposed 2008-09 budget whose first draft he was presenting, Grand Lake’s new principal Phyllis Price would be a half-time principal/half-time Title 1 reading teacher who could assist with classes. Also, she would not be burdened with running the district’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program as its present principal Terry Sidell has had to do for the past two years.

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Under the proposed budget, Rankin explained, Grand Lake Elementary will be getting another teacher, but it will be for its fifth grade which will be returning to the school after spending the current school year at East Grand Middle School. Next school year’s anticipated enrollment at the Grand Lake school is expected to be about 75 students.

Under the first draft of the 2008-09 budget presented by Rankin, the district is officially adding the six teachers and three paraprofessionals that were hired last fall due to a major surge in student enrollment at the district’s other schools. Also being added is the new Director of Student Achievement’s position.

The budget’s first draft includes an increase in teacher base salary from $31,000 to $31,500. The average teacher raise is 3.6 percent while the classified salaries will go up 4 percent.

Three more draft versions of the 2008-09 budget are expected to be presented this spring. The board must approve the budget before the end of the current school year on June 30.

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved a revision to a building project change order that was originally approved in February. The revision boosted the funding from $713,503 to $740,810.

The change order is part of the building project approved by district voters in last November’s $18.2 million bond election. Rankin reported that the addition funds for the change order is “still coming from the contingency funds and we haven’t gotten into any of the premium money yet.”

Rankin also reported that the building project at Middle Park High School is “taking shape” with concrete footers being poured this week. He said construction fencing was going to be put up at Granby Elementary this week so that work can begin there soon.

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