SJSD continues discussion of potential CRA model

The San Juan School District (SJSD) held off on making a decision on the controversial Community Reinvestment Agency (CRA) policy Nov. 13 during their monthly board meeting at Monticello High School.
The CRA discussion was the longest discussion topic of the evening for the board and the last topic on the agenda. After lengthy discussion surrounding CRA’s, some board members started to openly question whether or not to scrap the entire policy.
“I don’t know about this whole thing,” School Board Member Nelson Yellowman said. “What are we doing, starving our kids for the next 20 years to see if this thing works?
“I say stay with the game, everybody pays as they go along. Year after year everybody pays their taxes. What about those of us that don’t have businesses that have to pay property tax year after year, then you’ve got somebody that is coming in and getting a tax break. It’s a big chance.”
Other board members and even Superintendent Ron Nielson posed to the board whether or not this rubric or system was helpful at all and whether or not it was better to start the entire process over.
“We talked about taking this and just as a practice just saying, ‘Are we getting close? Is this even helpful,’” Nielson said about doing a mock trial with rubric. “Is it worth the course of staying with it, or do we abort it and say, ‘This isn’t the direction that is going to be helpful to the board.’”
The board was then tasked with running two existing projects through a rubric that has been created by the board where projects and companies are scored on a variety of different points. Board members are to individually score the projects on their own time and then send the average of the project scores to the board president.
Once the average scores are sent to the board president, the board will discuss the project scores and viability at the next meeting.
This is how the rubric system for the CRA’s was intended to work in theory, but as the board attempted to run a mock trial of the rubric system together as a group before adjourning for the evening, some problems within the rubric started to seemingly arise.
Most of the problems generated through the mock trial rubric run came from what the board deemed a lack of information. Lori Maughan and Merri Shumway questioned the use of board resources and time needed in order to come to a consensus on CRA’s.
By the end of the meeting, the board had discussed CRA’s for an hour and a half with no action made other than to postpone a decision on the matter for another meeting. The board will discuss their CRA plan at their next meeting, Dec. 11 at the District Office in Blanding.
Earlier in the meeting, Monticello High School Principal Lewis Whitaker gave an update during the departmental reports section of the meeting. Whitaker talked about the need for mental health resources at the high school.
“We had a suicide last year at the end of the year,” Whitaker said. “It was the worst day of my career.”
Whitaker said there have been two suicide threats this last week and that it is a serious concern that needs to be addressed.
Whitaker asked the board to consider hiring somebody to handle the mental health role specifically. Last year San Juan Health Services came to the school one time a week just for that specific purpose, Whitaker said.
“Charlie was coming up and talking to kids all day long,” Whitaker said. “She had a waiting list, and she told me when she left, ‘Lewis, you need more help with mental health care here in this school. The problems you are seeing here are very serious.’ Since the suicide, things have gotten worse.
“It’s like the high schools are becoming the mental health centers for teenagers, and we are not equipped to be that, but we are doing our best.”
The board later recognized outstanding service within the district by three individuals. Bev McDougall was recognized for outstanding service at Monticello Elementary School.
“Bev diligently works to promote a positive school culture at MES,” Board Member Lori Maughan said of McDougall, who is the secretary at the elementary school. “She does this by going above and beyond on a daily basis.”
After McDougall was presented with her award, Robin Gardner received an award commemorating her service to Monticello High School going on 20 years.
Maughan went on to describe how Gardner is the chief photographer for the Buckaroos and that, “Robin is a person of integrity, and MHS is so lucky to have her.”
The final outstanding service award at the meeting was presented to Lorie Butler of MES.
“Mrs. Butler constantly searches for new and innovative ways to serve her students,” Maughan said. “When she finds the newest effective strategy, she is more than willing to share it with others, advancing the betterment of MES.”
Later in the meeting, during the board discussion agenda item, an update was given on Bluff Elementary by Business Administrator Kyle Hosler. Hosler said the draft plans for the new school were at 50 percent and the district is still working with MHTN (architects) finalizing the outlines and drawings for the new building.
“The tentative plan at this point is to still put that out to bid Dec. 1 through the 25, in that window” Hosler said. “Hopefully to attract good interest in the project. Not only in Bluff Elementary but Montezuma Creek and the gym.”

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