Finances Still Undecided But BOE Still Busy Preparing for School Year

By REX ZIMMERMAN

The U.S.D. 255 Board of Education met in regular session on Monday, June 13, 6:00 p.m. at the central office. Board members in attendance were Mark Pollock, Dooli Rugg, Mariah Doherty, Mike Miller and Deb Helfrich, along with board president Steve Allen.

7-12 Building Report

Following approval of previous minutes and current agenda and payment of bills totaling $362,132.54, the board heard the 7-12 building report from principal, Brent Shaffer. He reported that Driving Education is in progress with 15 students enrolled. The class work is completed and he said students are now driving.

He gave a report on the outstanding results of South Barber athletes at state. All eight athletes that attended, whether in relays or individual events, scored points and received medals.

Dr. Williams Give Update

Superintendent Dr. Andi Williams reported to the board that the district is again fully accredited through June 30, 2017 as the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation works on implementing a new program. She said the new system will have less focus on scores.

Dr. Williams next discussed teacher professional development and survey results, and said the EdGE technology summer teacher camp will be held July 27 and 28. Teachers will be paid $100 per day to attend and upgrade their technology Moving to finances, the superintendent said she feels confident about the district’s finances after meeting with auditor Randy, who said the district was “in pretty good shape” heading into the end of the fiscal year.

The district will still lose around $175,000 in operating funds from the drop in valuation – but that is better than the $300,000 drop that was expected.

“The $175,000 is what we didn’t receive (from mineral production taxes) and it will become at this point what I ask for in extraordinary needs funding.” Dr. Williams added that the district would still have to increase the mill levy rate from the present 6 mills to possibly just over the state average of 19 mills, in addition to receiving the extraordinary needs funds from the state.

The auditor also gave the go ahead to make final year end purchases, including expanding the Envision math program (already used in grades K-6) with newest copyrighted materials, digital resources paid out over a six year contract which calls for materials to be updated regularly.

Superintendent Williams said the district will pay “one money” for the program and she did some figuring to determine that it would come out to about $18 per student for the next six years. There is also a good amount of free material that comes with the purchase of the program, she said. The district has the option to set up a payment plan that meets its budget needs.

Dr. Williams next addressed the recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling that the Kansas Legislature’s adopted school financing plan still did not meet the court’s guideline of a fair and equitable education for all Kansas students.

“As you may know, the legislature is going into special session on June 23 That is all we know,” she said. She said the district will try to keep it “business as usual” and be ready to do a few things if we need to, including paying salaries for work already done by the end of June with funds already available.

Negotiations with certified staff are completed, she continued, and the high school foreign language opening is still vacant. Dr. Williams said the district will continue to look for the best instructor available for that position, but could consider online foreign language as a temporary solution. The district has one applicant for the open math position, she said.

Dana Dunn from P1 Group met with Superintendent Williams. The corroded gas pipe project on the roof of the high school was taken off the list of items to do on the high school “Master Plan” as she requested the pipe be taken care of as soon as possible as a safety issue.

She then asked the board for their thoughts on how they wanted to proceed with the high school improvements – their priorities, and if they wanted to lump several projects together or to do a series of small projects over time.

Board members mentioned the heating and air conditioning system as a possible top project, but most felt with district finances still uncertain it might be a bit too early to commit to any large projects. They felt some of the smaller projects might be possible. Keeping any work local as possible was also suggested by board members.

Superintendent Williams will get the board a revised list of priorities for their review.

Steve Allen gave a report on the recent SCK-SEC meeting, and heard no objections to remaining with the group despite an increase in cost to the district.

In other action, the board:

  • Approved Steve Roberts and Tammy Angell for the two summer help positions.
  • Accepted the resignation of high school cook Dominique Thompson, with no replacement planned. Dr. Williams said based on other food services, the number of students we have and meals served, the district is still overstaffed. She said she is still looking into ways to conserve in that area. A brief discussion also included the quality and amount of food served students.
  • Approved the revised district calendar.
  • Approved the building handbooks for the K-6 and high school with changes. High school principal Brent Shaffer noted one change was that cell phones will not be allowed to be used in classrooms as they can cause a distraction, along with other changes that were discussed by the board.
  • Approved a request from an alumni group to use a school bus to tour the Hazelton-Hardtner-Kiowa area during Labor Day weekend. The group would pay for a driver from the school and fuel and sign an agreement the district already has in place. Such alumni requests have previously been approved.
  • Approved retired teacher Jeannie Albright to purchase an original sketch signed by noted Kansas artist Birger Sandzen that she had found years ago behind a desk and has been hanging in her room for several years. She said after contacting a gallery concerning the value of the artwork, she found it to be worth approximately $500.

Board member Mike Miller noted that after all the work Mrs. Albright had done for the district “I don’t have a problem with handing it to her and saying thank you.” Board voted to sell the drawing to Mrs. Albright for one dollar.

  • Agreed to allow a few rooms at the high school be used for EMT training on July 9.
  • Approved a request to use the football field area for soccer games one Saturday in April, 2017. The agreement is for around eight playing areas and the football field itself would not be used.
  • Had a first read on 16 KASB policy updates.
  • Approved the use of the gymnasium facilities at the high school and elementary school for summer league basketball.

In final action, the board held an executive session to discuss negotiations and approved them as presented after coming back into regular session.