Discussion was held during the Van-Far R-I School Board meeting on a 2016-2017 preliminary budget presented last week.
The budget shows revenues of $6,570,635.16 and expenses totaling $7,607,916.72.
Van-Far Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hunter noted that the totals are reflective on receipts on Bond Sales from Proposition A of $2,229,230 on June 9, 2015, which took place in the 2014-15 fiscal year. With the remaining expenditure removed from the budget, it shows a surplus of $23,165.
Expenditures show the recently passed changes of 1.3% increase for report staff and a $500 increase in pay for administration. The $518 for eligible staff with health insurance was also noted.
To reduce costs, the staff SFA spot is not being filled as well as a regular elementary position as the district anticipates expenditures in facilities, transportation, utilities, along with non-student contracted and contracted services.
School board member Larry Wheeler asked for clarification of what was cut from the budget.
It was noted nothing was put in for buying busses in the budget.
Wheeler brought up concerns on the bathroom that wasn’t completed as hoped for at the elementary school due to asbestos issues that needed to be addressed.
“And parking lots, people are already complaining about them, we never did that,” Wheeler added.
“Who are these people?” board member Kevin Motley responded as Wheeler said they were people he talked to in the coffee shop.
“Well I don’t go to the coffee shop Larry,” Motley added. “I have not had a single person come to me and say I’m pissed because you’re not doing the parking lots. We presented a wish list to the voters. We did not say we are going to do one, two, three, four, five, six, or seven. We said this is what we would like to do and the money wasn’t there. Maybe we didn’t ask for a big enough bond but that can be on our part but we can’t spend money we don’t have.”
Motley asked Wheeler if in all the years of him on the board, did the board ever spend money they didn’t have?
“We did not deficit spend like we have been doing,” Wheeler responded.
The two then talked about a lights issue that was paid for by money out of reserves.
“All boards are trying to do the best that they can with the money they have and sometimes the money just doesn’t go far enough and that’s what happened with the reconstruction down there,” Motley added.
Superintendent Dr. Hunter noted the concerns of health insurance.
Board member Pete Nasir said Wheeler has to remember that the board is having to look for money not only to spend on bathrooms and parking lots but on health insurance premiums and the salary schedule as well.
“And that’s the balancing act that the administration does and we vote on it,” Nasir noted. “…The money’s not there…We can’t keep saying that we’re going to spend money here, here, or here oh and by the way we got to budget this and find money in the budget because it’s just not there.”
Van-Far Principal Brian Hummel said he didn’t feel it was in the best interest of the students to cut a position. He feels in cutting another position it will hurt in efforts of achievement in both reading and math.
“…I do not feel it’s the best interest to cut the elementary teaching position,” Principal Hummel said. “Doing away with the SFA position is already cutting down on interventions that we can provide to those students who are struggling in reading and in math. And I feel that by cutting another position that we are going to make that even harder to close the gap of achievement.”
The position with base salary and insurance was around $42,000, so eliminating the position in the budget is to avoid a deficit budget.
Principal Hummel noted that from the scores, struggles are already evident in math and reading.
Board member Kimber Nation said perhaps some other items like the Ag awning project or other items could wait to provide necessary funding for perhaps a teacher.
According to the meeting minutes, Superintendent Dr. Hunter first thanked the board for their participation and support at graduation and end of year activities.
He reported that current enrollment is 616 students, with 256 in the Jr./Sr. high school and 360 in the elementary.
As far as the district’s facilities, the contractor will start moving in tomorrow to begin the elementary remodeling project. WERDCC is providing workers to help move on Tuesday, May 24.
Superintendent Dr. Hunter and Ryan Morris reported on the awning in the ag room area. The cost is estimated at $2,800 to tear out the posts, awning and concrete pieces, as well as leveling and placing rock around the sidewalk. There would be an additional cost to add a covering over the ag room door. If available, they will check with a couple more vendors to compare prices.
It was noted that Van-Far’s Adult Education Program was one of the top five in the state for student placement. The AEL Program was also awarded a $10,000 grant from Dollar General.
As for the Bright Futures Program, Community R-VI has also joined and now Audrain County is the first county in Missouri with all schools in the program. It was noted that this will provide stronger advantages to students in the communities.
Summer School will be held May 31-June with approximately 185 students enrolled. Transportation Director Charlie Stroke reported five bus routes running.
None of the bills passed regarding starting dates for school year’s in the state legislature. There were eight bills addressing Dyslexia, but only HB 2379 passed, which will set up a task force to research the issue. SB 586, which would place a 5% cap on growth of the State Adequacy Target, passed with an override of the Governor’s veto.
A last day of school luncheon was held on May 19 as retirees Marilyn Basinger and Joyce Holman were recognized. A Silent Auction was held with proceeds going to the Lincoln School.
Principal Hummel reported that Grandparent’s Day was held May 9 and approximately 240 eating lunch with students. Sixth grade and Pre-K promotions were held. Packing up is taking place and preparations are underway for the move to the high school building for summer school. May 23 – PD and PLC Meeting; May 25 and 26 – Leader In Me Training.
Van-Far Jr./Sr. High School Principal Cindy Pirch reported that the State Track Team practiced in Jefferson City today in preparation for the State Meet May 20.
Graduation, award programs and concerts were nicely attended and covered well by the media. Credit Recovery will be offered during Summer School. She reported that this is an important program to help our students and maintain graduation rates.
Charlie Stroker commended the transportation staff and their achievement of another accident free year. He reported that we are fully staffed in drivers, but short on sub drivers and will miss Mr. Pirch’s help as a sub.
Letters of resignation were read and accepted from Joe Basinger (Business Education), Garry Pirch (high school girls track and field coach), RJ Bachtold (elementary special education), Gabe Regot (assistant football coach), and Sarah Parsons (6th grade).
There was a first reading for the MSBA policy updates.
The OPAA contract for Summer School Food Services was approved with just one abstention from Dr. Greg Frost.
After receiving two responses for trash bids with a three year term, the board approved a measure to allow Superintendent Dr. Hunter to negotiate with Dayne’s Trash Service.
Summer School stipends were approved as presented with no change from the previous year.
Van-Far’s track and field team’s state qualifiers came in between the open and closed sessions as Van-Far head coach Blake Logan introduced each of the athletes. Seniors athletes Abbey Robinson, Nick Barnes, and Wyatt McDowell were each recognized for continuing their sports careers in college.
Thank you notes were read from Cindy and Garry Pirch as well as Mindy Nasir.
Nasir also noted that the school attorney had sent out information concerning transgender issues to schools.
In Executive Session, the board approved the minutes for the meetings held on April 19 and April 27.
They also voted to hire Penny Jennings-Copelin as a special education teacher; hired Christian Rost as Scholar Bowl Advisor; hired Amanda Stubblefield as a high school secretary; hired Brian Kurz as an assistant football coach; and hired both Andrew Snodgrass and Dalton Buie as summer computer techs.