Board talks about how to use available funds
A proposed 1.5 percent across-the-board raise for school employees once again led to a Woodford County Board of Education discussion on Monday about how to best use available revenue next school year. An additional $550,000 in general fund revenue for next school year came about as a result of unanticipated property tax dollars ($450,000) and by reducing the number of buses being purchased annually from four to three ($100,000). The additional revenue was not anticipated in a 2017-18 draft budget previously approved by the board. In conversations, board member Sherri Springate said teachers have told her they'd like to see an increase in the amount of money they receive to purchase supplies for their classes. "They're spending $500, $1,000, $1,500 on classroom things out of their pocket. Some of the things are tax deductible and they are getting some of that (money) back, but it's a huge expense," said Springate. She was told a teacher is currently reimbursed $50 annually for classroom supplies. Also, every school receives section 6 dollars: about $137 per student, at a time when many other school districts have reduced that annual per-student allocation to $100, said schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins. He said a school's site-based council determines how to spend those dollars. In addition to having concerns about school supplies being purchased by teachers, Springate, a social worker with the state department of juvenile justice, said, "I really would strongly advocate for ... additional social workers and counselors because I feel like we're just not meeting those needs right now." She said employees here should receive competitive wages, "but there's a small pool of money, and to use that wisely is just a very important thing to do." Because a proposed 1.5 percent raise for employees will cost about $250,000 of the $550,000 in available revenue, board member Margie Cleveland said, "The discussion (about those other needs) can be continued with (how to use these other available) funds. I would like to see this item remain on the agenda for Monday night." The board will be asked to approve a salary schedule and tentative budget for next school year at its regular meeting on Monday, May 22, at Huntertown Elementary at 6 p.m. Chief Operating Officer Amy Smith gave a brief review of the 2017-18 tentative budget and highlighted changes to the previously approved draft budget during Monday's planning meeting. In addition to receiving an estimated SEEK state funding allocation based on an ADA (average daily attendance) of 3,687 students, the tentative budget includes a 1.5 percent across-the-board raise for school employees. School calendar The board will be asked to approve a revised 2017-18 school calendar that correctly identifies primary election day as May 22 - and not May 15, which will become a regular school day for students. The last day of school for students will be May 21 if the school year is not extended by snow makeup days. Also, the board will be asked to approve a change to next school year's calendar that would identify a professional development day for teachers in March as the fourth - instead of second - makeup day for students. School start, end times Proposed adjustments to school start and end times next school year would allow the district to restructure afternoon bus routes and "shorten bus runs, particularly for elementary students," said Hawkins. "We believe by making these adjustments that we can do that." He said it's unfair to students who have to sit on buses for extended periods of time at the end of the school day. The bus route adjustments will also help eliminate situations where elementary, middle and high school students, who are county residents, do not ride on the same school bus in the afternoon, he added. On May 22, the board will be asked to approve adjustments that move the end time for elementary schools to 2:40 p.m.; the start time for the middle and high schools will move to 8:15 a.m., with the end time at 3:15 p.m.; Safe Harbor Academy will start the school day at 8:15 a.m. and end its day at 3 p.m. Nursing staff contract The board unanimously approved a contract with Maxim Nurse Staffing Solutions to provide substitute nurses (on an as-needed basis) for summer programs that provide meals to students, who may have medical conditions related to their diet. The board also approved contract adjustments to school secretary and clerical positions to increase their contracts to 184 and 189 days, respectively, and the district interpreter's contract was extended to 200 days. Changes to the annual contracts become effective for next school year and will increase personal costs by $17,000, according to information provided to board members. Summer programs All four elementary schools will offer summer reading programs in response to Board of Education concerns related to what has traditionally become known as "the summer slide." Simmons Elementary School will host a Literacy Camp for kindergarten through second-grade students who are not on grade level, according to Director of Student Achievement Martha Collins Jones. She said 50 students have signed up for the summer program. Southside Elementary School will offer a rotational literacy program this summer for 18 second-graders (three groups of six students), who are not on grade level. Huntertown Elementary School has given sets of books to students to beef-up their at-home libraries, said Jones. She said teachers will also read, eat and play with students at two sites, including the Woodford County Library, over the summer. Northside Elementary has more than 90 students (kindergarten through fourth-grade) signed up for its summer program, which also incorporates literacy rotational sessions. Each summer program was devised out of conversations with school administrators and staffers to determine the needs of their students, according to Jones. She said those programs are offered two or three days a week for six weeks. Financial report Woodford County schools began April with a total cash balance of $13.654 million and ended the month with $12.879 million, according to Chief Operating Officer Amy Smith's financial report. The district ended April with $293,032.61 in its building fund, $206,169.38 in its construction fund and $167,660.21 in its capital outlay fund, the report stated.