By Ben Marshall
VANDALIA—Salaries and the school budget were a big part of the discussion during the June 20 Van-Far School Board meeting.
Van-Far School Board Vice-President Tony Dameron addressed the board saying, “We want to be as fair to everyone as we can be, but we’re trusted with insuring the future viability of the school. We want to make sure” the board just got the numbers tonight.
Dameron added that, “We have to make sure that what we do, we can sustain. We don’t want to be Clopton. We don’t want to pass out money because we have it today and then find out tomorrow that our money out at the energy plant is frozen, or whatever else and we have to cut staff and we have to make decisions as to who we cut. I’m not saying that next month, once we get a look at these numbers, we may have different priorities, but with 10 minutes to look at these numbers, we can’t make this decision tonight. We push it off till June, and we’ve got the numbers, but we don’t have the time to analyze them well enough. We have to sit down and make priorities for the school and make sure we can make decisions that are sustainable. Because we don’t want to go down the road and two years from now figure out who we gotta cut. These raises are not a one time expenditure. We’re not just spending $90,000 out of this year’s budget. We’re spending $90,000 out of every year’s budget from now on. When you give someone a raise you don’t take it back if the numbers aren’t there. So then you have to cut two people if your revenues fall short in your projection.”
Dameron added that, “We have already spent $50,000 this year to try to help offset the healthcare increase that we were handed. There are different ways to handle it, we could have passed that on to the employees and said you know you all have to pick this up, but the board chose to pay that $52,000 or whatever assessment it was for our employees to try to keep these healthcare cost as close to the same as what they were.
“We’re not some misers that are trying to sit on this money and don’t want our employees to have it. We want this school to be successful and competitive with our neighboring districts, and we just have to make sure its on a sustainable path and we need a little more time to analyze this thing and make sure that that’s where we’re at.”
The the board then took these actions:
Added $250 to certificated salary with a vote 7-0.
Approved a flat $725 increase to classified salaries—6-0.
Approved a flat $725 increase to administrators’ salaries, excluding the superintendent position—7-0.
Kept extra-duty salaries the same as 2018-19—6-1.
Approved the 2019-20 budget as presented with revisions for certificated, classified, administrators, and extra-duty salaries as approved above—7-0
Accepted the 2018-19 budget revision as presented—7-0.
Approved the remaining 2018-19 expenditures and transfers—7-0.
Accepted the tire bid from Jireh—7-0.
The board rejected all bids for the elementary parking lot—7-0.
No action was taken to approve transfer from the General (incidental) Fund to the Capital Projects Fund.
The board voted 7-0 to accept the resignation of Christian Rost as Scholar Quiz Sponsor.
Van-Far Superintendent Stephen Hunter reported that May enrollment was 325 at the elementary and 270 at the high school for a total of 595.
Hunter reported the average daily attendance of 120-130 for the elementary.
He also reported that the Back to School Pool Party will be Aug. 6 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Both Brian Hummel and Kim Pafford reported on recent and upcoming events.
Van-Far School Board President Joni Barnett expressed appreciation to Hunter for everything he has done for the district and wished him well, and with that a motion was made and seconded to adjourn from regular session and move into executive session.
In executive session the Van-Far School Board moved to hire Alissa Ambroelo as a custodian— 7-0.
They voted to hire Jeffrey Ferguson for grounds and maintenance—6-1.
They voted to hire Joe Drebes as a high school science teacher—7-0.
The resignation of Jessica Sterne was accepted at a special meeting of the Van-Far Board of Education Tuesday, June 4.
In executive session the board also voted 4-0 to hire Heather Minter as head girls basketball coach, and to hire Joseph Drebes as varsity assistant football coach—4-0.