Rim Watson, Superintendent
South Routt School District
Email Communication with Staff Regarding Mill Levy Override
"In the article from today's (September 28, 2017) newspaper, my perception of the South Routt teachers/employees did not come out nearly as strong as I intended. First of all, the issue with the ballot initiative was not in any way caused by board action/decisions, it was completely created by actions in my office. Those errors caused the board to be in a difficult position of making the best choice from not optimal options. The board had previously discussed trying to get closer to providing competitive salaries for our employees and had voted unanimously to pursue a mill levy override initiative in order to make that an option.
What I want known concerning my perception of the employees now in South Routt - we are very fortunate, as a district/community, to have the quality of employees we have here now. We have exceptional employees who choose to work with our students because they value the kids/community, not because of the salary. Kids are fortunate to live in this school district because of the quality of our employees as teachers and as people. We greatly benefit from the fact that outstanding teachers have chosen to interview and go to work in South Routt.
I am honored to be associated with this school district, learning pedagogy and content in our classrooms and continuously impressed by the work ethic and student-centered perspectives encountered. I, along with the board and administrators, want to ensure we have done all things possible to retain our employees and recruit the best possible individuals to join us.
The issue with the ballot initiative came from my office and happened under my watch, I deeply regret it has occurred. I will be in the commons of the high school attoday if any employees have questions, want to discuss further or make points to me. If you wish to have a private conversation, let me know, and I will come to you."
Rim Watson Email to Staff 9/28/17
"At last night's South Routt Board of Education Special Meeting (September 28, 2017), the BOE voted to rescind the , mill levy override Ballot Question.
In a previous BOE meeting, the board voted unanimously to pursue a mill levy override in order to attempt to raise $250,000 annually to "...increase/offer salaries/wages that are more competitive w/ our neighboring districts."
I then made contact with bond counsel in order to create the ballot question wording. That wording was returned to me, after which I made edits based on BOE advice/consultation. I erred in that I did not resubmit the edited Ballot Question to the bond counsel for scrutiny. This led to a miscalculation in the metric to raise the $250,000 not being addressed. The wording in the Ballot Question "...ESTIMATED TO BE LESS THAN $10 PER $100,000 OF A HOME'S ASSESSED VALUE TO PRODUCE THE AMOUNT SET FORTH ABOVE [$250,000]..." was inaccurate. The wording should have been "...LESS THAN $20 PER $100,000..." Staying with the $10 limit would have only raised approximately $114,000 annually.
I discovered the error after the window had closed to edit the Ballot Question. All involved entities were consulted to determine options which let to the BOEmaking the decision to rescind the ballot initiative. In open session at last night's Special BOE meeting, the board discussed wanting to pursue the mill levy override in November 2018 (no final decision made).
I erred in not asking more direct/detailed questions at the calculation of the rate stage and then in not having the bond counsel revisit the edited Ballot Question. I apologize for the resultant failure to be able to pursue a salary increase on this November's ballot."
Rim Watson, Email to Staff 9/28/17