District 1 honors school board member
Governing board member Cathy Nicewander was honored for her tenure of eight years of service to Yuma Elementary District 1 at a meeting Monday.
Nicewander, who is retiring from the board, was awarded a plaque. Superintendent Darwin Stiffler thanked her for her years of dedication and support to the district, especially during a time when about $10 million was cut from the district budget.
“We, as a district, have gone through some very hard times,” Nicewander said. “As a board member, I've had to make some very hard decisions, many times losing sleep. And yet, I felt they were decisions that had to be made ... I'm proud to have been a school board member of Yuma School District 1, thank you so much.”
Board president Maureen Irr said that interviews for the vacant position will be held Wednesday, with five candidates vying for the seat.
In other meeting news, chief financial officer Kerry Jones reported that as of the 80th day of enrollment, the district was down 278 students compared with last year. He added that the number is up from the 40th day of enrollment when the district was down 124 students.
Jones compared enrollment numbers with other districts in the area. He said that as of the 40th day of school, Crane Elementary School District was up by 105 students, Harvest Preparatory Academy in Yuma was down three students, Gadsden Elementary School District was up 113 students, Somerton Elementary School District was up 11 students, Wellton Elementary School was down 28 students and Yuma Union High School District was down 216 students.
Within District 1, he highlighted that O.C. Johnson Elementary enrollment was down 46, Pecan Grove Elementary was down 67 students, Desert Mesa Elementary was down 46, Sunrise Elementary School was up 73 and Fourth Avenue Junior High was down 51.
During the school board's annual self-evaluation, board members shared some of the comments they had written. They were asked to list problems the board faces, weaknesses, accomplishments and priorities for the future.
Board members stated that some of their concerns included teacher and support staff salaries, the district's declining enrollment, the lack of nurses in the district and the return-to-work program in the district.
Accomplishments the board shared included the steady increase of districtwide test scores and the open-mindedness of the board and ability to work together despite disagreements.
Lastly, Stiffler provided the district with an update on his plan in regards to goals established earlier in the year by the governing board.
He shared a draft of his step-by-step plans of how he will go about strengthening the reading program in place for K-3 grade levels, developing an effective internal and external communication system to have interactive relationships with the community and business leaders to make the public aware of what is going on in District 1 and to establish a marketing plan, and to develop an ongoing program to recognize and reward achievements of building level staff beginning with principals.
Sarah Womer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.