FCSD#25 Board Chairman Mark Stone, left, accepted a $1,000 check from Devon Energy’s Bill Skelton, Darlen Raymond and David McDonald. (FCSD#25 photo)
(Riverton, Wyo.) – The Riverton School Board met in regular session Tuesday night and received an update on land acquisition issues for the district’s new elementary school that is now in the planning stages. That discussion occurred in an executive session. On Wednesday, however, Superintendent Terry Snyder said the two parcels of land under consideration for purchase are located off of North Broadway and West Monroe Avenues. Snyder said he received approval last week from the Wyoming School Facilities Commission to make a bid to purchase one of the parcels for the new 360 student school. Snyder was able to present the SFC with two formal appraisals and one property evaluation estimate from a Realtor. Armed with that information, the SFC approved allocating a certain amount of funds for the purchase. That number is being kept under wraps while negotiations for the purchase begin.
“Following our executive session, we signed an agreement with a local Realtor to work with the owners of the respective properties to propose an offer,” Snyder said. One contingency needed for both properties is the ability to provide for two egress routes off of the property for traffic control and for safety. Both parcels are nearly equal in size, with one being 16.6 acres and the other about 15.6 acres. “We wanted enough property for future expansion needs,” he said.
As for the start of school on Monday, Snyder said it went smoothly, and he said initial enrollment numbers are “very consistent with last year at this time.” The superintendent said the numbers are variable usually until after the Labor Day holiday, which is coming up on Monday, Sept. 2. “After that the numbers should stabilize.” He said the district ended the 2012-13 school year with 2,512 students and in 2011-12 the final enrollment was 2,502. “It’s too early to say what we’ll have because it is variable right now, but it looks like enrollment will be very solid, and comparable to the last two years, which both saw small increases.”
In fact, the kindergarten numbers at Aspen Park Elementary were so strong that the district hired an additional teacher for that section last week. With that hire, Snyder said the district has added 17 new teachers in the past three budget years. The additional teachers were added to meet the state mandated student teacher ratio of 16:1. The district won’t reach that ratio until the new elementary school is built and opens, but he said the district has brought the ratio down from 25:1 in the k-3 grades to 17 to 18:1 this year.
A highlight of Tuesday night’s meeting was the presentation of a $1,000 check from Devon Energy to the district for the purchase of items needed for students. The Energy company also donated several large boxes of school supplies to the district. The school supplies were donated by Devon’s employees and by contractors that work with the company. “We sincerely appreciate Devon’s contribution and it reminds me of what a great community we have here,” Snyder said.