Three school board members of the Emery County School District were sworn in at the recent monthly meeting held at the Castle Valley Center in Price. Business Administrator Ross Huntington stated that is was his pleasure to swear in these competent people. The recent election results were certified by the Emery County clerk and Huntington handed out those certificates following the swearing in ceremony. The three school board members sworn in were Rue Ware, Sam Singleton and Laurel Johansen.
Following the swearing in, the board elected Laurel Johansen to serve as president of the board and Royd Hatt to serve as vice president.
Superintendent Kirk Sitterud asked the board for approval of the hiring of a new educational assistant at Cleveland Elementary. The board approved hiring Christie Reed to fill that vacancy.
Superintendent Sitterud requested board approval of the junior high honor choir trip to Hillcrest High in Salt Lake City for competition. The trip is scheduled for Jan. 28 and 16 students from the junior high will attend. He also announced that the Emery High choir is attending state honor choir at Utah Valley State College in Orem on Jan. 15.
The speech and hearing screening policy has been updated to clarify some points. One terminology clarification explains that the school district does not need parental consent to screen students. The screenings are mandated by state law and thus does not require consent forms. The board approved the changes in the policy.
Superintendent Sitterud then informed the board of two teachers in the district who have been awarded recognitions. Those teachers are Nancy Martinez and Jessica Jenkins. Both were recognized by state organizations for their outstanding work at the high school level. He also noted that student Bruce Clement, the son of Collette and Ben Clement has been named one of the four high school Heismann winners by Wendy's restaurants. Bruce's nomination was awarded on academics as well as athletics.
Superintendent Sitterud then explained to the board several of the biggest bills coming before the legislature this session. The session begins Jan. 17 and runs through March 2. Many of the bills to be discussed by the legislature will affect the schools statewide.
One bill concerns the state school trust lands and the placing of a cap on school trust lands funds available for schools. Each school has its own trustlands committee which evaluates the needs at each individual school in the state and trustlands monies are spent directly to target these needs. When the schools first began receiving the trustlands money the district received approximately $40,000 and this year $67,000 will come into the district and be divided among the schools based on their school population.The amount has grown each year as the interest in the school trustlands fund grows.
Another issue is the weighted pupil unit. This is the amount to be determined by which each district in the state receives money from taxes. The districts are expecting a 5 percent increase in the WPU. The WPU is currently $2,182 per student per year. The 5 percent increase would bring the WPU to $2,291 per student with an added increase to the school district of approximately $400,000. Huntington thinks the 5 percent increase might be a bit optimistic and the legislature might approve a 4 percent increase and it remains to be seen in the next month when the legislature begins.
Enrollment in the county was down 68 students in 2004 from the 2003 enrollment. This year 2005, the two high schools will graduate 183 seniors. The number of second graders in the county is 186, first graders 196 and kindergarten students number 174, with the outgoing seniors and if the number of kindergarten students registering in February remains the same, the declining enrollment will level off which will be good news for the school district after years of declining enrollment and decreased revenues.
The economy is on the rise and this increase will be a great thing for the school district. One thing mentioned was that with the increase in insurance premiums to be paid by the district raising 12-17 percent, the 5 percent in the WPU will be helpful.
The next meeting of the Emery County School Board will be Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. at Canyon View Junior High School in Huntington.