Log In

Reset Password

Dolores school board approves salary increase; superintendent to resign

The Dolores school board approved raising teacher salaries at their May meeting. (Screen capture via Zoom)
Salaries will edge past $40,000 for teachers

At their May school board meeting, the Dolores RE-4A Board of Education approved raising teacher and other staff salaries and lowering the mill levy. Superintendent Reece Blincoe also announced that he plans to resign around May 21, staying on the job until June 30.

In celebration reports, the board heard from one of Dolores High School’s students. The student, Siena Parr, presented her state science fair project to the board. This most recent trip to state was Parr’s third time qualifying for the competition in science fair.

Parr shared her science project with the board, explaining that her project sought to determine whether gray water could be used as a suitable replacement for irrigation water for crops during drought.

Gray water comes from sources including sink water, bath water and laundry water.

Parr found that while irrigation water yielded the best results for crops, gray did come in second, showing that it could be used as a replacement for irrigation water during years of inadequate snow or rain.

After Parr’s science project, a third grade class showed the board how they’ve learned about area and perimeter with zoos they made in class.

During the District Accountability Committee presentation, the board heard about math intervention and improvement, elementary writing improvement and coaching, as well as the DAC’s continued work to help the district attract, recruit and retain teachers.

Only 55 people took part in the parent survey, one of the lowest participation in recent years.

Next, the district’s athletic director addressed the board and provided statistics and information on the middle school and high school sports for the 2023-2024 school year.

Athletic Director Curtis Garver shared that 124 Dolores students participated in sports, accounting for 72.5% of the school. Garver said this number didn’t include students in band or drama, which would push the percentage of “active” students even higher.

The middle school and high school football teams pulled the highest participation. The board also approved the hiring of a new head coach and assistant coach for football.

Cross-country, one of the district’s fastest growing sports, had more than 25 middle school and high school students, and the team qualified for state.

Garver said they are still looking for a middle school and high school basketball coach.

Garver gave an update on sport communication and registration before sharing that he hopes to partner with the board and other leaders to create an athletics/activities strategic plan. He also expressed that he hopes to discuss new lockers for teams to utilize during the winter, a new wrestling match, new workout room to accommodate more students and more in the upcoming school years.

In his superintendent report, Blincoe informed the board that the district will give their BEST grant to the grant panel next week. They will know whether they received the grant by the end of the week.

In discussion items, the board spoke of raising staff and teachers’ pay in the district, from teachers to confidential staff to administration.

While Blincoe acknowledged that raising salaries, specifically teacher salaries, is needed in the district, the raises would contribute to a $400,000 “hole” that the district is finding themselves in as they attempt to balance their budget for the upcoming school year.

Blincoe said the raises and upgrades to staff health insurance “ate up all the extra we had received.”

In total, the staff raises total $302,000 per year, and it puts teacher salaries over the $40,000 per year mark. Blincoe and the board said they knew raising salaries had to be a priority in order to continue recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers.

Now, the lowest paid staff member is making $15 per hour, while the average is $17, putting them on par with other local districts.

The district has also come to the end of the federal ESSER grant, a federal grant that the district has been utilizing, and facets covered by the grant would have to be listed and prioritized to see what might need to be cut. Summer school and after-school tutoring were two things listed that had been funded by the grant, as well as teacher Christmas and spring break stipends this year.

It has not been decided as to what may be cut as of this meeting.

Raising staff salaries was approved in action items, with administrative, classified and teacher salaries being approved to raise at the proposed rate. The decision was met with applause from those in attendance.

The new salaries will come into effect in September, according to Blincoe.

The mill levy override was also approved, with the board supporting a mill levy of $360,000, down $30,000 from the current $390,000. The approval included the ability for the district to use the mill levy for salaries and education supplies with a cap of eight years. The eight-year mark will put the mill levy on an election year and will allow voters to change how the mill levy is being used once the eight years is up.

The next Dolores school board meeting is Thursday, June 6 at 6 p.m.