November 18, 2010

Board of Education Approves Audit Report at November Meeting

The Scotland County R-I Board of Education met in regular session on Thursday, November 11, 2010. Vice President George Koontz called the regular meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. with four members present. Doctor Tobler arrived at 6:45 and Gary Miller arrived at 7:05. Paul Campbell was absent.

The board voted 5-0 to approve the following items on the Consent Agenda: Minutes - The October 14, 2010, minutes were approved. Procedural Evaluations - Co-Curricular - Mr. Hay; Secondary Guidance - Mr. Bondurant; Elementary Guidance - Mrs. Fromm. Declare Surplus Property - A number of old uniforms to declare surplus. Set Board Candidate Filing Dates - The 2011 election calendar establishes the filing dates for the April 5, 2011, election. Candidates may begin filing during regular business hours (8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) on December 14th. Filing closes at 5:00 p.m. January 18th.

In old business, the board reviewed a portion of the Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP). No action was required.

MSBA Conference

Gary Miller, George Koontz, Paul Campbell, Fred Clapp and Superintendent Dave Shalley attended the annual MSBA Conference. The conference addressed many key issues facing the state and schools. The report was for information purposes only and no action was required.

In new business, the board approved the district audit. NEMO CPA LLC presented the district audit for the 2009-2010 school year. The auditors found no concerns. The full audit report will be published in the Memphis Democrat. The board voted 6-0 to approve the audit.

Fall Board Workshop

The board voted 6-0 to schedule the annual fall workshop for December 15th at 6:30 p.m. The workshop is for information purposes only and no action can be taken.

Staff Absence Policies

The board adopted a resolution to allow administration to use discretion interpreting absence times for staff. The current policy causes inconsistencies within the district.

2011/2012 Junior-Senior High Master Schedule

The Scheduling Committee presented a tentative 2011-12 master schedule. The schedule consists of an eight-period day, with all classes meeting every day.

Reduced Schedule

The board voted 6-0 to approve one student request for a reduced schedule.

Personal Day Requests

Policy requires board approval when using a personal day to extend a vacation. The board received three requests to use personal days to extend a vacation. They voted 6-0 to approve the requests of Tamara Tague and Ronnie and Bonnie Young.

Executive Session

The board went into executive session at 8:45 p.m. The board voted 6-0 to approve the minutes of the October 14th meeting. The board voted 6-0 to offer the custodial position to Brian Lewis. The board voted to go out of closed session and into open session at 9:00 p.m.



Long Range Planning Committee Offers Input on School District Upgrades



Parents, faculty and community members offered their opinions on what they would like to see the Scotland County R-I School District look like in the future. Volunteers held a series of meetings in October as the SCR-I Long Range Planning Committee met to review the district's budget, enrollment figures, student achievement data and also toured the facilities.

During the process, the LRPC established a list of long term (5-10 year) and short term (3-5 year) goals. Those lists were presented to the SCR-I school board for consideration.

Technology was a key issue on the short term goal list. The top priority listed by the committee members was improving and updating the district's computer lab. Other high priorities included maintaining and improving teacher salaries, installation of an air conditioning system in the elementary school kitchen, as well as installation of a central thermostat in the elementary school.

The planning committee also highlighted the need to maintain the Career Ladder program as well as the School Reach system.

Other priorities ranked on at least half of the LRPC members' responses included covered sidewalks at the high school, adding a second transportation van for the district, additional computers and laptops for every classroom, upgrading the elementary school playground, development of an Early Childhood Center and preschool, development of a district website, additional security cameras at both buildings, and updating the school bus fleet.

Over the longer haul, committee members agreed that a new bus garage was the top priority.

Several of the shorter-term goals carried over to this list as well, as the LRPC highlighted continued support for updating technology, possibly with the addition of laptop computers in every classroom.

An annex continues to occupy future expansion goals, offering additional space for such goals as housing a multi-purpose center, an early childhood center, added space for the band and music departments and the possibility of separate high school and junior high areas. An administrative building a goal of several LRPC members as was upgrades in the school restroom facilities.

Security camera upgrades and awning improvements also were ranked toward the top of both lists as was the elementary school thermostat upgrade.

Maintaining the districts fine arts and performing arts programs was a priority as was adding additional college class offerings.

Sports-related goals included replacing the football field lights, creation of an all-weather track, baseball and softball field lighting upgrades, and repair of the football scoreboard.





SCR-I Finances Remain Strong Despite Weakened State Support



Thanks to the solid groundwork put in place over the past several decades, the Scotland County R-I School District remains on solid financial ground despite ever dwindling state support.

Superintendent Dave Shalley presented the district financial system procedural evaluation at the November 11th board meeting, tempering the picture of financial strength with growing concerns about education funding going forward.

At the center of that apprehension is the sluggish arrival of state aid. The district has received $1,070, 978.18, or 21%, of budgeted revenues. As of October, 25% of budgeted expenses, or $1,459,694.64, has been realized.

"At this point in the fiscal year, 33% of budgeted expenses and revenues are appropriate," Shalley told the board. "State revenues, which comprise 39.74% of the total budget, are down."

Local and county revenues, which make up 49.85% of the total budget, will arrive beginning in December and January.

"The reduced state funding is cause for concern due to the uncertainty of state revenue," Shalley said.

Fortunately, the district's unrestricted balances are $2,335,224.53 or 40.06% of the district's budgeted expenditures. Past boards established a goal of 17% balances to help with any unforeseen financial obligations.

Because of that solid bank account, Shalley said the board of education has been able to establish the local tax rate of $3.36, which is below the voter-approved ceiling of $3.69.

"This allows us to bring in needed revenue without over charging the local taxpayers," he said.

Other strengths of the financial system listed in the procedural evaluation included annual savings of $49,000 the district is realizing through the energy saving upgrades made in the summer of 2007. The district saved an additional $200,000 with the interest free, pass-through loan from the USDA and Tri County Electric. Recent resignations and retirements (six) have saved the district approximately $220,000 in salaries and benefits.

But with the strengths also came some concerns. Shalley noted that this year's budget projects a deficit of $459,266.00.

"We are in a cycle of deficit spending," he said. "The past three years the district has deficit spent $81,851, $136,014 and $124,280. This is a trend we will have to break."

Education funding will continue to be a hot topic at the state government level, where declining revenue led to budget cuts in many categorical areas including transportation, MOREnet and P.A.T.

Shalley noted that the new funding formula further hurts Scotland County with reduced funding to the district.

He did point out that the FY11 budget includes 2.3% growth in state revenues and as of October 1, year-to-date collections are up 2.6 percent, compared to 2010. As much as $189 million in Federal Jobs money will be run through FY11 supplemental budget process but the foundation formula includes $247 million in Federal Stabilization Funds, which will not be available next year.

Other revenue concerns include state gaming revenues that support the formula are about $50 million under budget.

Currently the formula requires an additional $233 million to fully fund education in 2012, with the state's total general revenue projected at a $600 million shortfall.

"There is a serious problem with state funding that we cannot overcome locally, without a major tax increase," Shalley said. "The assessed valuation of the district is currently $47,320,000. A penny increase on the tax rate will generate $4,700. If we take the entire Prop C waiver, the district will generate an extra $117,500."

These scenarios, coupled with the rising fuel and energy costs and Senate Bill 711, which lowers the tax rate ceiling in reassessment years, could have a negative impact on the district's funding according to the superintendent's report.

The district has a fifteen-year obligation to pay for the $1.9 million upgrades installed in the summer of 2007, which is scheduled to end in 2022. In addition, the maintenance of continually added technology will be costly, but necessary, to provide students the skills needed to compete in today's workforce.

"We must continue to spend carefully, maintain our buildings and keep resources up to date, as well as support programs for the student," Shalley said. "We have operated programs with very little increase in budget lines over the past eight years, but we do have increasing costs. This will reduce our balances over the next few years, but will put us more in line with the desired balance of 17%."

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