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YPS recovering from ‘perfect storm’

Superintendent Jason Simeroth labeled a revenue shortfall at Yukon Public Schools as “the perfect storm” during discussion at Monday night’s Yukon Board of Education meeting. Simeroth said the district will have to recover about $5 million in its spending.
That perfect storm was described as a compilation of the closing of school and the closing of businesses be-
cause of COVID-19, the opening of a new school and the hiring of new employees for the new school.
“The school system is at a point over the next couple of years where we will have to take steps to recover about $5 million in our spending,” said Simeroth.
The discussion was brought up when board member Leonard Wells asked how the shortfall in state financing would impact the school system.
“Do we know how this is going to affect us,” Wells asked. “When will we start feeling these effects – when will it hit?”
Simeroth said in regard to state revenues, the Yukon Public School district is down $1.9 million, and it is an immediate reduction in what the district will have from the state this year.
He added that the school system is being very proactive in its efforts to offset the loss. The superintendent said the recovery in spending is “very serious,” but it is “not undoable.”
“We anticipated being down this year but did not expect the chaos that has ensued and all the funds that had to be spent just to survive this,” Simeroth said. “We’ll get back – we have a good bunch out here.”
Simeroth applauded the school’s staff, asking the board members to “look around the room at the ladies and gentlemen who are in it.”
“They did a great job of pulling us up five years ago when we were in a downward trajectory,” Simeroth said.
The school system is also in line to receive $2.3 million in stimulus money from the federal government over the next three years. Simeroth said this money will not totally offset the loss.
He expects to have a plan by the end of this fiscal year, as to how the federal money will be spent.
In other business, board members held an executive session (closed meeting) to discuss staff resignations and employment, and the annual evaluation of the superintendent.
Among personnel items approved was the resignation of band director Darnell Zook. Board member Don Rowe said Zook has led the band for four or five years now, and he is stepping down and moving on to other things.

Rowe, who voiced his support for the band, said this means big changes for band and the school system must now look forward to the new things that are coming.

The board also approved a three-year contract extension to Simeroth. Rowe said the board appreciates the leadership he has shown.

“We all appreciate Jason,” said Board President Suzanne Cannon. “This is hard – this has been a hard year.”

Wells added, “We appreciate your leadership and expect it to continue on.”

Early on in Monday’s meeting, incoming board member Brian Coulson was introduced by Cannon. Coulson was the sole filer for the post #4 seat after the withdrawal of candidacy by Michelle Hawthorne.
Though an election will not be held, Coulson will be seated at the first board meeting following the April election date.

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