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Amid budget cutbacks, schools expect a smooth year

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By Deb Hurley Brobst

Despite a few bumps along the way, the teachers, administrators and staff in Evergreen schools are excited about a new school year.

Students return to classrooms next week, and despite district-wide budget cuts, they won’t see huge differences. Principals say they tried to keep the budget cuts as far away from classrooms as possible.

However, class sizes are a bit larger, there’s less money for supplies, and some teacher aides have disappeared.

The principals say what has allowed them to keep schools running as smoothly as possible despite the cuts is the planning they have done over the past several years.

Fees at the elementary schools have remained generally even or are up slightly compared with last year, in part because of district planning, Bergen Meadow Elementary School principal Peggy Miller said.

Marshdale Elementary principal Christie Frost added: “We tried to be really conscientious as we put fees together. We’re in tough economic times. We wanted to be really prudent about how we’re directing the money we get from families.”

School PTAs are gearing up for major fund-raising this year to help offset budget cuts. They will be relying on events, sales and other activities to help bring more money into the schools.

The PTA presidents say they are grateful to local businesses such as Baskin-Robbins, Da Kind Soup, Wendy’s, Menchie’s and Hearthfire Books, which help out by donating a portion of their proceeds to schools on special nights.

At this point, anything helps, the PTA presidents say, and they feel the weight of the responsibility to help the schools.

New online registration

One bump in the road at the start of school has been a new online registration program called Jeffco Connect. It has not worked smoothly for all families, and parents have been calling schools to ask for help.

“It’s a new tool for us,” said Marlene Desmond, district communications manager. “It’s more cost-effective for schools and more environmentally sound for us. It’s a learning process for everybody.”

The system allows parents to file registration paperwork online. In the past, registration information was gathered from parents on paper, and school staff members entered the information into computers.

District spokeswoman Melissa Reeves said parents who were having difficulty with Jeffco Connect had the wrong access code or were having trouble navigating the website, and the district’s IT staff have been training school secretaries so they can help parents.

“When this is completely rolled out,” Reeves said, “people will see the value of it. (The information we are collecting online) will follow the children through school, and it will be more easily accessible.”

EHS spruce-up

Evergreen High School principal Matt Walsh says this is the year of sprucing up the school and finding more connections among students and teachers.

“This is the sixth year that we are a top high school in the nation,” Walsh said. “Our building should reflect that.”

Walsh and staff members have made small changes along the main hallway in the school, for example, that Walsh says will have big results in terms of the look of the building.

There’s now a welcome desk inside the main doors, and Walsh himself has painted a good share of the main hallway in white with dark blue accent colors. Some lockers have been moved so that the main hallway feels more like the hub of the school, Walsh said.

Bergens celebrating 40th anniversary

While the start of the school year is exciting for staff members at Bergen Meadow and Bergen Valley elementary schools, it’s even more exciting to celebrate the schools’ 40th anniversary.

The anniversary celebration will be Nov. 4 and 5. It will begin at 1 p.m. Nov. 4 with an assembly welcoming alums and former teachers and staff.

A fun run is planned starting at 9 a.m. Nov. 5, with an assembly at 11 a.m.

Bergen Meadow principal Miller said it’s been fun to talk with former teachers who are excited about returning to the school and sharing the history with current students and their families.

Anyone interested in helping with the event should contact Miller at pmiller@jeffco.k12.co.us.

Contact Deb Hurley Brobst at deb@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1041. Check www.CanyonCourier.com for updates.