Re-2 recognized for budget presentation |

Re-2 recognized for budget presentation

Theresa Hamilton
Re-2 News
Tana Couey and her team state their case as part of Riverside Middle School's debate lesson. The integrated lesson included public and persuasive speaking, writing, and science in the design.
Provided |

Home owners in Garfield County recently received their second half property tax notices in the mail. One of the most significant line items that most homeowners see in their property taxes is the one for their school district.

Garfield Re-2 has been very fortunate over the last 15 years to have received generous support from its taxpayers through the passing of two bond programs to build new schools and two mill levy elections to operate our schools and support the salaries of our great teachers and staff.

Did you know, however, that the Garfield School District Re-2 strives to keep the mill levy rate as low as possible for our taxpayers? Over the last 11 years, thanks to the hard work of our finance department and administrative teams, Garfield Re-2 has refinanced our bonds eight times and saved the taxpayers of our district $4.6 million.

“We are grateful for the support of our taxpayers,” said Director of Finance Christy Hamrick. “We try to manage their tax dollars in the most efficient way possible and spend them for the highest and greatest use. By refinancing our bonds, we are trying to be good stewards of the dollars that the taxpayers have given us.”

For the third consecutive year, the Association of School Business Officials (ASBO) International has awarded Garfield School District Re-2 its Meritorious Budget Award for excellence in budget presentation during the 2015–2016 budget year.

The Meritorious Budget Awards program promotes and recognizes excellence in school budget presentation and enhances school business officials’ skills in developing, analyzing and presenting a school system budget. After a rigorous review by professional auditors, the award is conferred only on school districts that have met or exceeded the program’s stringent criteria.

All of the Garfield Re-2 financial documents, including our ’15-’16 budget, and our ’14-’15 audit, can be found on the district’s website at Click on the financial transparency button in the top right corner of the site to see all of Garfield Re-2’s financial documentation.

Riverside Middle School debate

While the Democrats and Republicans host their debates to determine their respective presidential candidates, Riverside Middle School eighth-graders got a turn to defend their positions last week.

Eighth-grade students were ardently debating the pros and cons of gene editing — a type of genetic engineering where DNA is inserted, deleted or replaced into an organism’s genome to modify a genetic characteristic. It is a topic they had just covered in science class.

The debates were structured in a team format with four students on either side of the issue in the “hot seat” and able to argue their case. Students were able to tap in and out of the process WWF style to support their team’s position. When they were not in the hot seat, the debaters rushed back to waiting lap top computers to get more facts and ammunition to shoot holes in the opposing argument.

“Gene editing can help kids live longer lives and eradicate diseases,” argued one student.

“This is true,” came the response. “But there can be unwanted mutations when you begin editing genes, and you can’t always get rid of the mutations.”

Eighth grade English Language Arts instructors Heidi Hitch-Young and Bryan Gall are using the artform of debate as part of an integrated English Language Arts lesson that, in addition to tapping into eighth-grade science lessons, required an essay and a deep knowledge of how to conduct research. It is a lesson that merges writing, public speaking and science knowledge.

“We were worried that the kids might not be as engaged in this lesson as we would like. That has not been a problem,” Hitch-Young laughed.

Students were coached early on in debate etiquette, and that it is OK to attack the argument, but not the person.

“I learned how to be persuasive, how to support your claim and defend your argument, even if you don’t believe in the position you are taking,” explained eighth-grader Paloma Corral. Paloma was assigned to the team for gene editing but has some reservations. Regardless of her position, she loved the lesson.

“It’s fun arguing. It’s fun to research and defend your position,” she explained.

Tana Couey was on the team against gene editing.

“(This lesson) is a really great way to learn, but I’m biased,” she explained. “Science and English Language Arts are my two favorite subjects, so it’s easy for me to put them together.”

Couey said that she feels very comfortable presenting and speaking in front of people, so a lesson in debate seemed natural for her.

Overall, students were graded on how comprehensive their notes were, the effectiveness of their claims and counterclaims and their involvement in their team’s argument. Who knows. In 25-years, one of these feisty eighth-graders may find their way to a presidential debate stage.

Best of the Month

Garfield Re-2 would like to congratulate Reach Out Colorado (Dave Bottroff and Kim Reagan) for being named Business of the Month, Nancy Hurtado for being named Volunteer of the Month, and Kendra Ritter for being named Staff of the Month by Highland Elementary and Garfield School District Re-2.

Theresa Hamilton is the director of districtwide services for the Garfield School District Re-2, serving Rifle, Silt and New Castle. Contact her at 665-7621.

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