|Helper and Mont Harmon Junior High football players struggle to control the ball during a game last fall. On May 10, the Carbon County Board of Education voted to increase student athletic fees at Helper Junior High from $20 to $30. Students participating in sports at Mont Harmon may face a similar fee increase due to rising costs of operating athletic programs|
Based on a recommendation from the superintendent of schools, the Carbon board of education approved a 10 percent increase in the district's payments to the county recreation department on May 10.
The increase in funding came in response to a request from recreation department director Steve Christensen asking the district raise its payments from $56,100 to $61,710 per year.
"We have not asked for an increase in several years," stated Christensen in a letter to the district. "We need this to maintain the administrative staff and increased associated costs."
The county recreation department runs various programs for schools throughout the district.
In another area of money consideration, the board voted to increase student athletic fees at Helper Junior High School. The action raised the fees from $20 to $30. But the vote wasn't without debate.
"I am concerned we are only doing this for one school," said board member Boyd Bell. "If we are going to do this, it should pertain to all schools."
Mont Harmon principal Todd Lauritsen said the junior high would support the increase at Helper and indicated that the Price school would probably be asking for the same thing soon.
"The fees for officials for the games have gone from $30 to $45 per contest," said Lauritsen. "The increase is needed."
Helper principal Tom Montoya pointed out that all the schools are facing the same problem.
"Our budgets can only carry us so far and then we need help," said Montoya.
Helper Junior High also requested a fee for a new visual arts program added at the school last year. The fee will be $15.
"We need that money to have a quality program like Mont Harmon's," stated Montoya.
The issue of charging fees for regular core classes came up during the discussion.
Board member Grady McEvoy voiced concerns about schools charging fees for core classes. Helper currently charges a $5 fee for use of graphing calculators in math classes.
But the math teachers who were at the meeting said the fee primarily went to pay for batteries for the devices. Wear and tear have also taken a toll on the calculators that the school had secured with a grant.
"Well, then, maybe we should look at a smaller fee like $1 a year and then the district should take care of the rest," said McEvoy.
When the vote was taken, the fee increase was only opposed by Bell. The dissenting board of education member stated he still believed it should be a district-wide move rather than one done for a single school.
In an unrelated matter, the board of education was addressed by Chuck Abeyta, who helps with the junior wrestling program in East Carbon.
"I am here to find out if you are going to tear down the high school and when that will happen," explained Abeyta. "We have run this wrestling program since 1980 and I am asking that we get to use the building for the summer games and for some wresting seminars we are planning."
The district plans to demolish of the East Carbon High building in preparation for constructing a new elementary school on the site.
McEvoy told Abeyta that the bid to tear down the structure was going on in May and he doubted there would be a way for the team to use the high school building.
Carbon district facilities manager Deon Kone pointed out that the utilities have been cut off at the vacant high school building.
"You know we can't have you use East Carbon High, but we can offer Petersen Elementary to you," stated McEvoy.
However, Abeyta said he didn't think the wrestling mats would fit in the muli-purpose room of Petersen Elementary.
The board discussed situation, but the members did not take any action in the matter.
During the board reports, member Barry Deeter expressed concerns about Helper Junior High and where things are headed at the school.
"We have had some meetings with the faculty and some great ideas have come out of those," said Deeter, referring to options for revitalizing the school and its enrollment. "One of the things we were going to do was hold an open house for citizens in town."
But Deeter said a message coming from the district kind of crushed the ideas when the junior high learned that the school would be losing another teacher next year.
"So with that, everything got put on hold," commented Deeter. "I just think the master schedule at the school needs administrative help. And theschool just can't be cut anymore. If it doesn't stop, it will be devastating to the programs."
Last year, Helper Junior High was one of two schools being considered for closure by a committee and the board of education.
In the end, Helper was spared and East Carbon High School was closed. However, it was mentioned that the issue with Helper and the junior high school's declining enrollment would be re-evaluated in a few years.
The school and the district need to be progressive about how to handle the declining enrollment and existing educational programs, said Deeter.