May 1, 2003
Budget Crunch Means SCR-I Will Not Fill Three Teaching Vacancies
With the state budget continuing its unpredictable downward spiral the Scotland County R-I Board of Education began the unpleasant task of implementing budget cuts for the fiscal year 2003-2004 at the April 24 board meeting.
Current projections have the state of Missouri cutting some $340 million or more from education funding. Board members considered the impact of these state cuts, which could mean a loss of as much as $400,000 in funding for the SCR-I district.
After careful deliberation and study of the budgetary issues the board voted 7-0 not to fill any current employment vacancies with the district with the exception of the grades 7-12 music position. The current vacancies include teaching jobs in secondary business education, secondary language arts, elementary P.E., a district custodian and a library aide.
The job reductions will net the district a savings of $134,726 for fiscal year 2003-04. If no future reductions are made the difference in revenues versus expenses for next year will have to be absorbed by the district's existing balances to compensate for the state funding shortfall.
"During the last two months of this fiscal year the board will study carefully what future reductions may be required to insure the fiscal integrity of the district is not compromised," stated Superintendent LeRoy Huff.
One of the staff vacancies was finalized at the April 24 meeting while a second letter of resignation was not approved by the board.
High School language arts and drama instructor Mary Couch submitted her letter of resignation to the board announcing she will be retiring at the end of the school year. She thanked the board for the opportunity to work in the SCR-I district the past eight years. The board voted 7-0 to accept the resignation.
A second letter was received from high school P.E. teacher and varsity basketball coach Jaryt Hunziker asking to be released from his 2003-2004 contract so he could return to teach and coach at Clark County R-I where he graduated.
Following a period of discussion the board voted unanimously to follow board policy GCB, which states "any contract may be terminated at any time by mutual consent… A teacher will not be released from contract unless a suitable replacement is available, and then only on conditions set forth in the Missouri Teacher Tenure Act." Hunziker's resignation was tabled pending the hiring of a suitable replacement.
The board continued to review the state funding issues and considered a more detailed breakdown of where the $340 million state reductions would come from. The bulk of the money, more than $274 million will be held out of the foundation formula. More than $24 million has been cut from state transportation funding for the bus programs. Another $26 million is being cut from special education and vocational rehab with an additional $21 million being reduced on school improvement programs.
The board reviewed the projected cuts and discussed the current debates going on in the house and senate as well as comments coming from the governor's office as the budget issue continues to be unsettled.
Representatives from the Scotland County Little League Association met with the board to submit a proposal to install lights at the new softball/baseball field located east of the elementary school.
The association will fund the entire project at no cost to the school district. The board voted 7-0 to allow the installation of lights at the ballpark.
Principal Dave Shalley submitted a request to the board to allow the school's golf and track teams to travel to state competitions if they would qualify at the upcoming district events. The events are scheduled in May, prior to the next meeting of the board and required pre-approval. The trips were unanimously approved.
The board voted 6-1 to approve a request from Bill Cottrell to allow the Envirothon Team to travel to the state contest in Jefferson in May.
The district's special programs director Rhonda McBee presented procedural evaluations for the Title II A & D, Title IV A, Title V, Title VI A and special services programs. Denice Blaine gave the board the procedural evaluation for the gifted program. The board approved all the reports by a 7-0 vote.
Insurance rates went up 12 percent for health coverage for the district's employees. The Northeast Missouri Insurance Co-op recently met and approved the rates for the 2003-2004 school year. Despite seeing premiums go up by more than $47,000 for next year, SCR-I had the lowest increase among northeast Missouri districts.
The rates per employee rose from $286.23 per month last year to $320.55 for the new policy.
The policy has $500 deductible with a $2.5 million maximum benefit. The insurance provides a $25 doctor visit co-pay as well as prescription drug card.
Despite the uncertainty of funding issues the board accepted McBee's recommendation to continue the district's participation in its existing federal programs. No budget figures have yet been received regarding funding for the special programs.