Mill levy override spells relief for Re-2 | PostIndependent.com
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Mill levy override spells relief for Re-2

Heidi RiceRifle Correspondent

The passage of the Re-2 school district mill levy override will mean immediate assistance with class sizes through the hiring of teacher aides to help in the elementary school grades.Although revenues from the mill levy override won’t actually start to be visible until March 2005, the district will use existing money in the general fund to hire 13 paraprofessionals in the next few weeks to assist teachers in their classrooms.”This is just to help with the existing class sizes,” said Ava Lanes, assistant superintendent of the Re-2 district. “At the end of the year, we will re-evaluate and decide where we want to add teachers and paraprofessionals for next year.”Voters passed the $2.7 million mill levy override in the Nov. 2 election, 54 percent to 46 percent. A proposed $4 million mill levy override in September 2003 overwhelmingly failed.The district promised to slate funds from this year’s measure to reduce class sizes, to increase salaries to retain quality staff, and to assist with the opening of the new Coal Ridge High School between Silt and New Castle next year.The district has identified kindergarten through fourth grade as the classes most in need of size reduction and assistance. Highland Elementary in Rifle will add six paraprofessionals; Wamsley Elementary in Rifle will add three; and Kathryn Senor Elementary in New Castle will add four positions. The schools were targeted due to the student-to-teacher ratio at specific grade levels within the buildings.The optimum class size for the district is 18-22 students. The paraprofessionals will act as teacher aides to help handle the class sizes. “Our teachers and staff members work hard at what they do and are very good at it,” Lanes said. “But when you are working with 24 kindergartners in one classroom or 28 fourth-graders, it becomes difficult to give the necessary attention to each individual child. By adding paraprofessionals in the classroom, we can help each student receive the attention that they deserve.”Advertisements for the paraprofessionals will be posted immediately in local newspapers, and Re-2 will require applicants to have a high school diploma and some knowledge in various subjects.”But mainly it will be the quality of the people and how they relate to children,” Lanes said.The mill levy override will also allow for staff salary increases in the district for both certified and noncertified personnel.”Between now and January or February, the staff and district employees will get raises,” Lanes said. The goal of the raises is retaining quality employees throughout the Re-2 school district. Re-2 superintendent Dr. Gary Pack asked the school board that his raise be waived.The mill levy will also go toward operation of the new 110,000-square-foot Coal Ridge High School, which will open its doors for the 2005-06 school year for freshman and sophomore students. The first class of the high school will graduate in 2008.The mill levy will also go toward operation of the new 110,000-square-foot Coal Ridge High School, which will open its doors for the 2005-06 school year for freshman and sophomore students. The first class of the high school will graduate in 2008.


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