Centre Superintendent Susan Teeson told board members Monday that the district could lose $608,989 in state aid if a bill in the Kansas Senate to restrict cash balances passes.
Under SB505, school districts would be allowed to have cash balances no higher than 15 percent of their operating costs. Centre’s cash balance at the beginning of the 2014-15 fiscal year was $1,145,747, excluding capital outlay and bond and interest. Centre’s allowable cash balance would be $538,768, requiring a reduction of $608,989 in state aid over the next five years, or $121,797 a year.
“The schools that have been the most frugal would be hurt the most,” Jeff Bina said.
“They (legislators) think districts shouldn’t have reserves but should use them,” Rick Basore said.
A hearing on SB 505 was held in Topeka on Friday but no vote has been taken.
The discussion on possible school budget cuts led directly into a discussion on combining first and second grade. David Rziha, a Tampa resident, shared with the board that some people are thinking of taking their children to another school district if the two grades are combined. He urged the board and administration to communicate with those parents to get their support.
Board member Jesse Brunner said that he had received calls from people expressing their concerns. He said some think the district is combining the classes in order to have a preschool class, but Beeson said the two things are separate issues.
“Can we afford a preschool?” Brunner asked.
Beeson said the interest in a preschool is high in the community, with a potential of nine students, and the cost would be less than $20,000.
“We have to use our resources in an effective way,” she said. “This is the issue in closing small schools. We’re working so hard to keep the district open.”
“Let’s get the word out about the financial situation,” Terry Deines said.
Beeson also assured the board that academics would not suffer in a combined classroom. She said the district has a strong support system in which teachers diligently track each student’s progress and provide additional services when needed.
“Second grade is mostly a repetition of first grade, with a few added skills,” she said.
Bina said he experienced a combined classroom in school and saw no negatives resulting from it.
Mark Heiser asked if the school building has room for a preschool. Beeson said it did, but she was reluctant to give specifics prior to an executive session on student matters.
The board revisited the issue after the executive session and unanimously approved the preschool program.
The board accepted the resignations of Counselor Jill Day and head cook Inge Nordstrom, effective at the end of the school year. After an executive session, they hired Matt Warta as a teacher’s aide for the remainder of the school year. Two teachers were non-renewed.
The board approved a projected amount of $3,579 for Parents as Teachers.
The adopted 2016-17 school calendar includes 171.25 teaching days and 9.75 staff development and work days. The first day of classes will be Aug. 18, and the last day of classes will be May 23, 2017.