With a concern for declining revenues of a half million dollars over the last five years along with increasing health care costs and other expenditures for the school district, the Van-Far R-I School Board approved a .58-cent levy to be placed on the August ballot.
If passed, the levy would generate an estimated $245,000 in revenue.
“Something I don’t understand, you sitting here and say that we really need this money…did we throw anything out about what we cut out?” Wheeler asked.
New Board President Kevin Motley said the district has informed the public of where staff positions had not been replaced to save money, health insurance almost doubled over last eight to 10 years costing the district money, revenues have reduced almost $500,000 the last five to six years from the state, etc.
“I believe that it needs to be on the ballot and I believe that our district, it truly needs funds,” Keller noted.
Motley noted that the voters of the district are the ones who have to decide whether or not to approve the measure. Putting the levy on the ballot was approved as Wheeler cast the lone “No” vote.
The preliminary 2017-18 budget was approved as presented.
It included adjustments after a vote earlier in the meeting that certified one step with no change to schedule and a $475 raise for classified and administrators’ salaries. That vote went 5-2 with Jim Hopke and Motley voting “No.”
The AEL salary raises for 2017-18 were approved along with extra-duty salaries.
It also shows a $518 cap on employee insurance.
A first vote showed 4-3 in favor of “No” to continue with MEUHP with a $440 premium cap per employee after a recommendation from Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hunter. The “No” votes were cast by Justin Hopke, Keller, Nasir, and Wheeler.
A motion to use MEUHP with the current $518 premium cap was then approved 4-3 with “No” votes from Jim Hopke, Motley, and Dr. Frost.
The Life Insurance Rates will continue with $35,000 coverage for $3.85 per month.A 2016-17 budget adjustment was also approved as presented. That revision was $61,489.12 in Sped Contract Services.
Organizing the School Board
New Van-Far School Board member Justin Hopke was sworn into office by Superintendent Dr. Hunter alongside incumbents Jim Hopke and Wheeler.
Dr. Greg Frost nominated Kevin Motley for the office of president and that motion was approved.
The remainder of the votes showed Dana Keller being voted vice-president; after Pete Nasir declined a nomination, Jim Hopke was voted secretary; Wheeler was once again voted treasurer; Nasir was voted the MSBA Delegate; and Justin Hopke was voted the MSBA Delegate Alternate.
Adding Cross Country
as a sport
The school board voted unanimously to approve the adding of cross country as a sport for the district.
A coach will be paid the same as a track coach, which is $2,799.70.
Costs for the new sport includes the coaches salary, estimated $800 in entry fees, and $400-$500 in travel and driver costs.
The district could co-op with Community R-VI in the future if it chooses to.
Van-Far is now no longer the only EMO Conference school without cross country.
The track uniforms will be used. Money to support the sport can also be raised through hosting a meet.
During the staff input portion of the meeting, Kris Cross’ husband Steve read a letter from Kris in support of adding a cross country program. In the letter, she noted she would work for free or a $1 if needed. She also noted that the lack of a cross country program hurts the track and field distance program.
Parent Jennifer Adam also spoke to the board in support of adding a program.
Approving Audit Bid
Keller cast the lone “No” vote in approving the audit bid from Gerding, Korte & Chitwood.
The district also received a bid from Wade Stables.
Superintendent Dr. Hunter recommended for the district to stay with its current vendor.
In Executive Session, the board hired Cody Parker (teacher); re-hired Bobbi Craven, Missy Gooch (Missy also for academic extra-duty schedule), and Charlie Stroker; re-hired remaining classified employees as listed; re-hired Vickie James as AEL Director; re-hired Deborah Robinson-Dunn as AEL Lead Instructor; re-hired Lisa Newland as AEL Bookkeeper; re-hired Debbie Wood as AEL Payroll Clerk; re-hired the remaining employees on the extra-duty list (with lone “No” vote from Larry Wheeler); and re-hired Jack Sims and Larry Thomas for grounds maintenance.
Principal Pafford introduced students who participated in the Hart Career Center Skills USA contests: Andrew Snodgrass (first place in Computer Repair Technical Information Written Contest ($2,000 scholarship); Madison Baumbach (first place in Cosmetology (goes to Nationals in Kentucky); Paul Schambach (first place in Electronics Technology (goes to Nationals in Kentucky); and Richard Beatty (third place in Technical Computer Applications.)
Superintendent Dr. Hunter reported current enrollment is 576. Enrollment at Van-Far Elementary is 305 and Van-Far Jr./Sr. High School is 201.
Charlie Stroker, Transportation, reported that 16 busses were inspected. Four were cited and all were placed back in service before the day was over. Superintendent Dr. Hunter thanked Charlie and the drivers for their prep work for the inspection.
It was noted that the Spring Regional meeting will be held April 26 in Warrenton starting at 6 p.m.
As for a facilities update, the damaged Ag Room wall has been repaired.
There is $13,932 of the bond money remaining. He is working with Ryan Morris to secure bids for gravel for the high school and elementary parking lots. The washer and garbage disposal in the high school kitchen had to be replaced.
Van-Far Elementary Principal Brian Hummel noted in his report that the 2nd Annual Leadership Day is April 26. Teacher Appreciation Week is May 1-5. Grandparent’s Day is May 5.
A Spring Program for K-2nd grades is at 7 p.m. on May 4.
Van-Far Jr./Sr. High School Principal Kim Pafford’s report noted the consideration of using Odyssey as a new credit recovery program in place of PLATO.
Resignations were approved for Amanda Calhoun (secretary), Karen Jones (cook), and Melissa Lehenbauer (para).
A “Thank You” note was read from the Deimeke family.
Nasir spoke about pending legislation that could potentially cut into public school funding.
The first reading of 2017A Policy Updates was given.
Courtney Blattel reported on the recent VFTA Carnival noting $3,200 was raised from the event for scholarships.