USD 408 Superintendent Lee Leiker told board of education members at Monday’s meeting that Governor Sam Brownback’s allotment cuts that stripped $35,000 from the current-year budget likely won’t be the last cuts the district faces this year.
Senate Bill 71 would cut an additional $53,500 from the budget, if passed, Leiker said, totaling about $90,000 in losses for the district to be made up between now and June.
“These cuts may not even be the end,” Leiker said. “That’s purely speculation on my part, but the state may not hit its projections for March or April either.”
Leiker said he planned to meet with school administrators Monday to start planning how to handle the loss of $90,000, and potential additional loss of revenue.
Budget concerns were a cloud hanging over nearly every topic brought up at the meeting.
For some, the concerns brought speculation. Board President Chris Sprowles wasn’t sure Marion County Special Education Cooperative Director David Sheppard needed to employ as many paraeducators as it currently does. MCSEC will have to begin covering its paraeducators for health insurance, which Sheppard says will run between $120,000 and $150,000.
For another group, budget concerns put a damper on an otherwise positive discussion. Lori Soo Hoo of Parents As Teachers reported on the positive feedback the program has been getting, just before proposing the board agree to a funding plan that would cost the district $1,200 more than the same plan did last year. Soo Hoo said this was due to a block grant the program no longer receives. Because of the overwhelming support for the program from those it serves, the board approved the funding 6-0.
Election date resolution
The board signed a resolution in favor of keeping school board elections the way they are — in the spring of odd-numbered years, and nonpartisan.
The state legislature has discussed moving some elections, including school board elections, to the November election in even years. It also wants to force school board representatives to run under a political party. The state cites a desire for increased voter turnout, but Leiker said he sees various problems with the proposal.
He didn’t see a purpose in making school board elections partisan.
“We’re here to do what’s best for all kids, regardless of our political affiliation,” Leiker said.
He also said the April elections allow for board members to take over in July, as opposed to during the middle of the school year, with a lame duck period after their election.
The resolution adds USD 408 to a list of districts against moving the election dates or making them partisan.
New band uniforms
Leiker said MHS Band Director Chris Barlow was initially going to present a sample uniform to the board Monday, but was sick.
Leiker said the current band uniforms are originally from the 1980s, and that it was time for a change.
“These are the most expensive uniforms we put on kids,” Leiker said.
Sprowles said it was time for new uniforms, but asked how often students wear the uniforms. MHS Principal Tod Gordon said the school would likely use them more were they to get new ones.
This was another discussion during which the budget strains were pointed to.
Rhodes tenders resignation
The board approved the resignation of high school science teacher Bruce Rhodes, who spent his entire 32-year career at USD 408.
The board thanked him for his service, citing his great dedication to the district.
“That’s why he let us know this early,” Gordon said. “He knew it’d take a long time to fill his position.”
In other business:
- District principals Tod Gordon, Missy Stubenhofer, and Justin Wasmuth had their contracts extended through the 2015-16 school year. Leiker said the contract extension lengths shortened last year due to budget concerns.
- The board approved use of a bus for Women’s Encounter from March 13-15.