During the June Carbon School Board meeting, many topics were at the forefront to be discussed as the new school year approaches. Carbon School District Superintendent Lance Hatch began the meeting with reporting that the district has 21 licensed staff that will not be returning for the 2020-21 school year. “That is quite a few for a district our size,” said Hatch.
With 13 staff members retiring this school year, 15 staff members will be transferring to lateral positions within the district. As of now, there have been 20 new hires with one pending.
“In the midst of COVID-19 and the inability to go out and recruit, we have had probably the best pool of applicants that we have seen,” said Hatch. “Every single position has been filled by a high-quality individual and the one that is pending, we have 11 great candidates.”
Carbon School District’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction Mika Salas, who was a part of the hiring process, added, “It just has been so nice to have a choice.” With previous years, there have been little to no applications sent in, she explained. “But this was a wonderful problem to have.”
Hatch explained that the majority of the new hires had a connection to Carbon County, whether it be through family or friends. “That is one of the things that we are learning, that we have great people right here in the community and we have people that want to be here that aren’t.”
However, COVID-19 affected much more than just the hiring process for Carbon School District. The graduation for the class of 2020 was one that will go down in history. To practice correct social distancing, the graduates participated in a drive-by style graduation to receive their diplomas while teachers and other staff members lined the pathway. Students were encouraged to decorate their vehicle in celebration of their accomplishments.
“Graduation was a riot,” said Carbon School Board Vice President Jeffery Richens. “It was the difference between a ceremony and a celebration.” Richens continued to express that although graduation is a common event in a student’s life, we need to continue to celebrate them.
“I had a good time,” said Carbon School Board President Wayne Woodward. “Part of the reason why I had a good time because everybody around me was having a good time.”
School Board Member Kristen Taylor added that not only did the students enjoy graduation, but so did everyone who got to be in the vehicles as their graduates’ accepted their diplomas. She also expressed her interest to recognize the committee who planned the mastermind graduation and thank them in a fall school board meeting. “They left no stone untouched,” said Taylor.
Planning for the upcoming school year didn’t stop there with more items discussed. Carbon School District Business Administrator Darin Lancaster took the spotlight to explain the district’s plan for the 2020-21 budget.
A big item on the agenda that was approved by the board was the negotiation package of a step increase for teacher salaries. The starting wage for a first year teacher in Carbon School District is $44,000. “We are proud of where we’ve come to and we continue to focus on having competitive salaries,” said Lancaster.
Hatch added that he believes the school districts’ competitive salaries resulted in their great recruitment year.
To conclude the meeting, the budget for 2019-20 school year was adopted, along with the approval for the 2020-21 budget.
The next school board meeting is slated for July 15 at the district office at 9 a.m. A special board meeting will take place on July 8 at 6 p.m.