On Tuesday, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) heard from Sheriff Brett Shroetlin on current fire conditions. The sheriff told the commissioners local fire officials had analyzed conditions using seven factors and only three proved affirmative. “Fires might start, but they’re not spreading,” he said. “There are no huge adverse conditions.” He told them the cool temperatures at night, early morning humidity and a good prediction for moisture by the end of the week, ”I feel pretty confident. The recommendation is for zero fire restrictions.”
Upon receipt of the sheriff’s report, Commissioner Chair Richard Cimino requested, “Let’s schedule this again for next week.”
East Grand School District report
East Grand School superintendent Frank Reeves presented the commissioners with a ‘State of the District’ report.
Reeves told the commissioners the District’s Mission: ‘Through our educational process, every student and staff will be challenged to think, learn, achieve and care in a safe and healthy environment’ and Vision: ‘Together, through excellence in education, we will enable all students to realize their individual potential’ have “guided a lot of things we are doing right now.”
In 2018, the District had been designated a ‘District of Distinction’ by the State of Colorado. EGSD is accredited with Distinction per the Colorado Department of Education.
By the numbers, student enrollment was 1,402 in June 2019 – the District has added over 150 students in the last three years. The average graduation rate is 88.9% for the period 2015-2018. Post secondary enrollment (2016-2017) is 53.3%. The Class of 2019 received $155,300 in local scholarships.
East Grand Middle School was rated a top 10 healthiest school in the state in 2018, and, Fraser Valley Elementary was named the number 1 healthiest school last year.
The District’s goals are developed by the board following numerous meetings with the public, taking comments and discussing them in a work session held in April. The District’s strategic goals are:
- Safety – providing a feeling of safety within all facilities;
- Student Engagement – the District surveys students annually, looking for ways to get them engaged and to take charge of their learning;
- Professional Development/Learning – while over 65% of the teachers have advanced degrees, the paraprofessionals and classified staff are also seeking educational opportunities, which the District is committed to providing;
- Communication – this is always a goal; the District is rolling out an app that will give parents a single source of information for students in all grades;
- Staffing Needs – new demands from growth, state requirements and retaining quality staff are priorities.
- Granby Elementary School: Constructed in 1940, 4 renovations since, most recently in 2008;
- Fraser Elementary School: Constructed in 1979, 2 renovations since, most recently in 2008;
- East Grand Middle School: Constructed in 2000, no renovations made since construction; and,
- Middle Park High School: Constructed in 1978, 2 renovations since construction, most recently in 2008
“We try to keep up on our buildings,” said Reeves. “Last year, we completed a master plan and came up with our projected needs.”
- Additional classroom/instructional space for 21st Century Learning. More space is needed for project work and maker spaces to facilitate hands on learning.
- Need to maintain appropriate student/teacher ratio in classrooms. The District’s appropriate student ratios are K-2: 15:1; Grades 3-8: 18/21:1; and, High School: 20/25:1. “We think it makes a huge difference,” said Reeves.
- Age of buildings requires new construction. “The buildings are in fairly good shape. We have added so many programs, it just takes up more space.” Spaces for things such as Socio-Emotional counseling require space beyond what the schools have now. “We’ve added so much, and that’s caused some of our crowding issues right now,” he explained.
The District has applied for and been awarded a BEST grant, which will be used to enhance security within all of the schools. Some of the doorways, entrances and doors out of ADA compliance will be remodeled. They will also improve communication and camera systems, which will be shared with local law enforcement. At Fraser Valley Elementary and East Grand Middle School, they will remodel the entrances and add offices to better enable routing when people come into the buildings. The grant awarded $2.1 million to the District and another $5.9 million will be matched by the District to complete the security upgrades. They will utilize some reserves and Certificates of Participation (CoP) to fund the project. “We want to maintain $4 million in reserves,” said Reeves.
Proposed future projects include possible construction of a new Elementary School on a new site or on the High School campus, renovation of Fraser Valley Elementary and East Grand Middle Schools, adding a Career and Tech Education Center to the High School campus and paying off 2019 CoPs.
Superintendent Reeves showed the commissioners an exhibit of what it would cost a residential homeowner to fund a bond, should the District choose to put the funding to a vote in 2020.
- A $10 million bond would cost $6.28 annually per $100K in home value;
- A $50 million bond would cost $31.38 annually per $100K in home value; and,
- A $100 million bond would cost $67.15 annually per $100K in home value.
“We are sensitive to commercial property owners,” said Reeves, acknowledging they would be impacted at a different rate.
In conclusion, Reeves told the commissioners the benefits of future projects would allow the District to maintain small class sizes, continue to provide educational opportunities that ensure students’ are competitive with other students in the state, guarantee that students are prepared for college and career opportunities in the 21st century, provide a Career-Tech Ed building for High School students, and possibly add a new school that could become a community school, where services for children and families are centralized.
As for this year’s enrollment, the District does not release numbers until October 1, but Reeves told the commissioners the numbers are still increasing. The sixth grade class is at 128 students, the largest class so far. Reeves noted the most student growth was in 4th through 8th grade. “I am not sure why, but that seems to be our sweet spot.”
Chairman Cimino pointed out the District is “the only barometer our community has for demographic populations.” He told Reeves, “I look for your help. Demographers can’t predict migration in and out.” The 2008 recession caused an exodus from 2010-2012, and the county did not recover until 2016. “Now, we are going to new records,” he said. Noting the demographer predicted a decrease due to birth rates, he asked that the school district “make public, this information, as much as possible. I appreciate your transparency.”
“People have to be able to afford housing,” said Reeves. “That’s a big factor for both districts – are we going to develop affordable-type housing? When you have a family, it’s expensive, with the cost of living. Making it attractive is important to the school district.”
Commissioner Kris Manguso asked what the average teacher’s salary was in the District, and Reeves estimated about $48,000/year. “The state is doing a better job of funding education the last few years. We have devoted to trying to increase salaries. Almost all extra money has gone into salaries. We are about 10K behind, in terms of what’s cost of living. We are staying caught up, but we are not gaining,” said Reeves.
“It’s good that you’re not losing ground,” said commissioner Manguso.
Reeves told the commissioners he was headed to Washington DC on Sunday to visit with legislators and others in support of maintaining educational funding and making it permanent, so that Districts can plan most effectively.
Commissioners approve ballot language
The commissioners reviewed and approved Resolution 2019-9-1, a resolution describing a proposal for the authorization and implementation of a 0.2% county-wide sales tax increase for the purpose of assisting in the funding of urgent public safety needs, setting the ballot title and question for the upcoming November 5th election. All proceeds of the increased sales tax would be utilized on the new facility. County Clerk & Recorder Sara Rosene confirmed the measure will be referenced as 1A on the November ballot.
The commissioners next approved the Sunset Ridge homeowners’ request to organize a Public Improvement District and assess the district residents as appropriate. The ballot measure will be 1B: Tax creation of the PID; and 1C: Formation.
County attorney Chris Leahy provided guidance to the commissioners, sheriff and staff on when it is appropriate for them to discuss their views on the upcoming ballot measure pertaining to funding the new Public Safety Facility. Essentially, the elected officials are free to discuss the ballot measure anytime they are not “on the clock”. They are not able to utilize county funds and resources to promote the measure, but can reach out to communities to host Town Hall meetings, the local Lions Club and Rotary and other private sites, as long as no county funds or governmental facilities are utilized. While on duty, they can only speak about facts, not opinion.
County manager Kate McIntire told the commissioners the consultants at George K Baum were drafting a list of pros and cons regarding the measure. Once approved, it would serve as a reference tool for those interested in the measure.
If the voters pass the ballot measure in November, it would take effect on January 1, 2020 and sunset on December 31, 2039, or sooner, if the debt is paid off.
To listen to the meetings and learn more, visit co.grand.co.us.