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Dolores school board approves raises for teachers and staff

The Dolores school board approved raises for teachers and discussed the preliminary budget for the 2023-2024 school year.
Board ended up giving teachers a larger raise than planned

The Dolores School District RE-4A Board of Education on May 11 discussed teacher raises, next year’s budget and athletics and other items in a lengthy three-hour monthly meeting.

Celebration reports

In the celebration reports, one of Dolores’ first grade teachers told the board about a grant she applied for in September of last year. This grant is awarded to rural teachers who are in need of funds for STEAM projects (science, technology, arts and mathematics).

The grant, which totals $3,000, was awarded to the first grade class in October. The class used the grant to purchase 10 Lego sets that require children to use science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics to put them together.

Students who attended the meeting demonstrated how they worked to the board, and their teacher noted these Lego sets had taught her students problem-solving, collaborative learning and more.

Citizen comments

In citizen comments, the board was asked to consider moving Dolores’ graduation ceremony from May 20 to May 22 or 23. Part of the reason she made this request was to allow athletes who qualified for the state track meet in Lakewood to compete without having to choose between competing at state to walking across the graduation stage.

Another citizen spoke to the board about some of the financial policies they have been discussing, saying some of the policies should be rewritten to help prevent fraud.

Budget discussions

The board had a lengthy discussion about the first draft of their preliminary budget for the 2023-2024 school year, saying they will have until June 30 to make changes to the preliminary budget.

As of their meeting, the budget is expecting $11,349 per student for the next school year, and they plan to have more than $200,000 carried over from the current budget.

They also briefly discussed how best to fund certain programs once the last of COVID-19 relief grants end and whether or not they could use mill levy money to help fund school supplies like last year.

The board decided to work budget discussions into their next work meeting to make sure they have everything ironed out before the deadline at the end of June.

Superintendent report

Superintendent Reece Blincoe told the board that he would be interviewing for the BEST grant on Monday, May 15. The school district applied for the grant earlier this year, and hope to be selected for the grant, which will help build buildings and make some necessary renovations and upgrades to the campus.

If the district doesn’t receive the grant this year, Blincoe has said that they will reapply next year when the grant reopens.

Athletic director report

As an end-of-the-year recap, the district’s athletic director provided a report to the board regarding Dolores’ sports for the 2022-2023 school year.

One of the highlights of his report included the football team’s play in varsity eight-man level for the first time. Although they will be losing some seniors on graduation day, he noted that more than 20 players would return for the 2023-2024 school year.

He also spoke of the school’s archery team placing 13th at nationals as a team and how cross-country was one of the school’s most successful programs for this school year.

Because the cross-country team included many young students this year, he said many of their runners would return in the fall, and excitedly informed the board that they would be hosting a cross-country meet in Boggy Draw as well.

He also told the board about how esports continue to grow in popularity under CHSAA’s guidance.

In closing, he spoke of the rising cost of officials, and told the board to make sure coaches were being paid properly and not less than officials.

District Accountability Committee report

In the District Accountability Committee’s report, they reported on an optional, anonymous survey sent to students and parents about how they can improve Dolores schools for the next school year.

“What can make Dolores more appealing?” she asked.

Many parents spoke about curriculum improvement and many middle school parents brought up the topic of bullying.

But there was one positive aspect of the surveys that rang true across the board.

“They love our teachers,” she said.

Teacher and staff raises

During action items, the board brought up teacher raises, with a motion being made to give teachers in the district a 6.5% raise for the 2023-2024 school year.

The motion was not approved because board members felt that teacher raises should be higher.

“Let’s give them the most support we can,” Board President Meagan Crowley said.

A 7% raise was passed unanimously for teachers, as was a raise of 5% for other school staff.

The next board meeting will take place June 20 at 6 p.m.