TSD hears requests to help fund Berthoud pool, discusses pay raises

By Dan Karpiel

The Surveyor

The Thompson School District (TSD) Board of Education (BOE) tackled a number of issues on their regular meeting on Wednesday night in Loveland.

During the public participation portion of the meeting, five Berthoud residents spoke to the board in advocacy of the TSD partnering with the Town of Berthoud to build an indoor swimming pool at the proposed recreation center at Waggener Farm Park in Berthoud. Last week, a joint meeting between the BOE and the Berthoud Board of Trustees, the majority of the discussion centered around the proposal of a partnership where the district would provide $4.5 million from the $35.8 million premium earned from the bond sale approved by voters in ballot Issue 5B last November to build a competition-ready indoor pool at the rec center, rather than the smaller, outdoor pool concept currently part of the proposed facility.

Berthoud Trustees Brian Laak and Paul Alaback asked the BOE to consider creating the partnership with both citing the added benefits students gain from participating in athletics. Laak cited the dearth of extracurricular activities available in Berthoud saying, “We’re not Loveland, we’re not Longmont, you can’t ride your bike to a movie theater,” and also pointed out the youth suicide rates in town could be mitigated with the building of a pool that could be used year-round.

“If we can form some type of partnership for a swimming pool at Waggener Farm Park I think it would be a great thing on so many different levels not only for our community but for the students who go to our schools, those kids really need something to do once they get out of the classroom,” Laak said.

Alaback also pointed to the benefits young people glean from participating in sports in asking the BOE to consider the partnership. Alaback called youth inactivity and obesity “national epidemics” and argued an indoor pool available for year-round use would benefit the community enormously. Said Alaback, “It’s unfair for students and their parents to have to drive six to eight miles to practice in Loveland.”

The need to commute daily for practices and events was also a point made in presentations of Berthoud residents, and parents of Berthoud swimmers, Amy Dellwardt and Mark Roberts as well as Berthoud High sophomore, Jamie Dellwardt, a swimmer who had a wildly successful season on the Berthoud High swim team this past winter. Jamie Dellwardt said having an indoor pool the Berthoud High swim team could use for practice and host meets, “would make us feel like a true team.”

Amy Dellwardt presented an idea where, if the Town and the TSD were to create the partnership for the indoor pool construction, the district could make use to the Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, giving the students in those programs hands-on experience in construction, maintenance and repairs of the facility which also, according to Amy Dellwardt, has the potential of saving money for the district. Amy Dellwardt called the idea a “win, win, win” for the district, the students and the town.

“You have a rare opportunity right now this is a time when there can be a partnership, if we wait for this three years down the road it’s going to cost the district more,” Amy Dellwardt said.

The other issue of significance to come out of Wednesday’s meeting was a discussion of a proposed pay raise as a result of the Mill Levy Override (MLO) approved by voters under Issue 5A in November. The agreement worked out between the TSD and the Thompson Education Association (TEA) calls for a 7.5-percent cost of living raise for district employees in addition to the 2.5-percent salary schedule increase.

The total 10-percent raise, which goes not only to teachers but to all district employees, will help lessen the wage gap between the TSD and neighboring districts, namely Poudre, St Vrain and Windsor, districts where the TSD has been losing teachers and other personnel at a high rate in recent years.

BOE member Paul Bankes, however, did question how the across the board raise will impact those at the lower end of the salary scale. With the new contract, the lowest annual salary for a district teacher will be $40,000 but for those with longer tenure and more experience who make more, the raise will put a lot more money in their pockets.

An official vote on the new contract will take place at the next regularly scheduled meeting on May 15.

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