July 3, 2003

State Budget Woes Force Third Straight Month Of Financial Cutbacks At SCR-I

The financial cutbacks courtesy of the unsettled state financial situation continued at Scotland County R-I High School as for the third straight month the SCR-I Board of Education approved curtailments for the budget for the upcoming school year.

During the June 27 meeting, board members voted 7-0 to make reductions in services that will save the school an estimated $19,050 next year. In the past three months the district has trimmed $255,065 from the 2003-04 budget.

The June cutbacks included the elimination of one bus route, a reduction in custodial overtime, and the elimination of athletic scouting.

The budget woes do not look any better for next year either. The board reviewed a number of informational packets distributed by superintendent LeRoy Huff that indicated continued budget problems for the state.

"I highlighted in dramatic fashion how serious the problem has become as a direct result of the failure of the General Assembly and the Governor to reach a compromise that will protect the educational future of this state's most precious natural resource, our children," Huff stated. " There appears little, if any intent in reaching a consensus as both the General Assembly and the Governor are very ridged and uncompromising in their point of view and the end result will be that years of educational progress made in the State of Missouri is on the verge of being system-atically dismantled at the expense of our children."

Huff pointed out that statewide the education workforce has been reduced by 3,400 positions because of budget cuts. Even with the savings generated by the personnel cutbacks the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) indicates that 87 percent of the responding schools indicated they will be dipping into reserve funds to cover this year's budget expenses.

Deficit Budget

The SCR-I district will be among those schools forced to use reserves on hand to meet the upcoming year's expected shortfalls.

During the June 27 meeting the board approved the preliminary 2003-2004 budget that is projecting a $263,998 deficit despite the more than $200,000 in reductions passed by the board the past three months.

"This budget is a conservative projection, which I informed the Board is required in these uncertain economic times," Huff said. "It appears that due to a lack of appropriate financial support from state government there will be future deficit budgets until an improved economy or a more cooperative working relationship exists between the General Assembly and the executive branch of government."

With the continued inability of the state to reach a budget decision Huff went on to inform the board that the deficit could be even larger as there are still no realistic or reliable figures available on which to base the state's funding portion of the district's budget.

Future Cuts

With the deficit budget looming large and indications the state funding crunch may be even worse the following year the SCR-I board started considering budget cuts that may have to be made in the 2004-05 school year.

One of the first cuts likely will be the discontinuation of all bus transportation that is not eligible for state reimbursement. The school currently absorbs the transportation cost for all routes within one mile of the schools.

State funding does not reimburse for these costs as the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reimburses schools on the efficiency of the miles traveled each day by the district's buses.

Student collections made within one mile of the school are not considered as efficient miles. So not only is there no state reimbursement for the cost, DESE also assesses a penalty when these inefficient miles are provided by the school.

Milk/Bread Bids

In other business, the board reviewed a pair of bids for the 2003-04 milk and bread contracts. After reviewing the appropriate offers the district awarded the milk contract to Anderson Erickson of Des Moines, IA. The bread contract was awarded to Wonder/Hostess Bakery of Davenport, IA.

Bank Bids

The Bank of Kirksville retained the school district's financial services contract for another two years with a successful bid. The school solicited bids from area banks to provide banking services for a two-year contract covering the 2003-04 and 2004-05 fiscal years.

The Bank of Kirksville and the Community Bank of Memphis submitted bids. Both proposals met the school requirements. The contract was awarded to the Bank of Kirksville based on higher interest rates for the schools Super Now and Money Market accounts.

Procedural Evaluation

Jim Morgan presented a procedural evaluation to the board for the district's technology program. The board reviewed Morgan's report on the strengths and weaknesses and approved the report by a 7-0 vote.

Policy Revisions

The board reviewed changes to the Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP) and approved the adjustments prior to completion of the 2003 year. School boards are required to annually update their CSIP.

Board members also reviewed and approved 19 policy changes to the district manual as recommended by the Missouri School Board Association in its annual policy review.

The policy updates were necessitated by law changes or differences in legal interpretations.

Employee Picnic

August 18 was established as the date for the annual district picnic for new employees. The board also established October 14 as the date for the annual Celebration of Excellence Dinner.

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