by Shane Clouse
LA VETA — The La Veta Board of Education (LVBOE) began the April 8, 2013 meeting by acknowledging the new name plates made of metal and wood given to them by the students of the Vo-Ag department.
The LVBOE then heard from Irene Heikes, the elementary school secretary. After more than 21 years working at the school, Heikes announced her retirement. She said that the school is the best job in the world and she hoped that she had been able to make a difference in someone’s life. There were many tears and hugs as the board took the time to express their individual respect. The common thought was, “when you think of school spirit, you think of Irene Heikes.” When asked what was next for her, Heikes said she is hiking the Grand Canyon.
The LVBOE also accepted the resignation of Douglas Swanson, the music teacher, effective for last February 25.
The board spent considerable time discussing the upcoming budget process. In the preliminary planning, the LVBOE is looking at an additional $135,000 in cuts for the 2013-14 school year. This will be the fifth year of cuts due to the state cuts in the Department of Education.
In making budget cuts while maintaining a fund balance to keep the school operational, the LVBOE has struggled to keep quality educational programming and maintain financial health. To complicate the need for cuts, the district will be facing increases in health and retirement benefits for teachers and staff. With this information, Superintendent Bree Lessar stated that there are only bad ideas left for budget cuts.
In the audience, Jeremy Coe voiced a concern for the board. He has two school age kids, and after hearing about the continued budget cuts, he wonders whether he should stay or move his kids to a different school district. Coe has been involved in the Strategic Planning Committee for the district working under the Teacher Committee.
Business Manager Toni Brgoch explained that the fund balance that the district keeps a constant eye on is to help the school through the tough times that sometimes happen. The monies are there to cover payroll if payments are not received or for unforeseen maintenance issues and to insure the district is solvent (able to pay the bills).
Coe stated he still has concerns over the continued budget cuts and feels that the community should be more attached to the school. LVBOE president Sam Law said she understands the reason for concern but is very optimistic about the future and is confident the district can move forward.
In other news, the district approved the renewal of the contract with superintendent Bree Lessar as superintendant with principle duties through June 30, 2015. There is a provision that the contract be reviewed after the Strategic Planning Committee gives its recommendations expected this July.
The LVBOE then heard a grant update from Gaye Davis. The district is currently working under several grants that are to be used exclusively to supplement educational programs. The district also has received several grants to be applied towards the playground project, the Garland street project, and the drainage project. These projects are expected to start at the end of the school year.
The board approved the continued employment of spring coaches Brandi Menegatti for track and Nace Huff for baseball.
The board also approved putting Jean DiLisio, Christina Guadanogli, and Casey Medsker on the substitute staff.
In a routine move in accordance with local law, the LVBOE approved the appointment of Marta Moore to the La Veta Regional Library District Board of Trustees.