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District sets second budget amendment hearing for May 28

Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 11:42 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 12:00 p.m. CDT

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“I thought I had all my ducks in a row,” Board Secretary/Director Business Affairs Gayle Isaac said. “I continued watching the expenses roll in, and I got nervous.”

Isaac is asking the board to grant him permission to add another $939,581 to the budget, which would alter the total budget for the fiscal year to $21,517,614. Isaac is seeking the additional funds after recent expenses totaling $815,936 came in.

Superintendent Steve McDermott noted that items listed in the expense report were already covered in the long-term budget plan.

“This budget amendment is to align and make sure the budget is accurate as one year ends and we go into another,” McDermott said.

“We have the money and we have the fund balance to cover these things,” Isaac added.

The other big ticket item that was approved was the expansion of the district’s pre-school program. In recent weeks, McDermott and Elementary Educational Services Director Jim Gilbert had pushed for expansion.

“We have a waiting list of people, that qualify, of course,” McDermott said. “Our goal is to serve everyone that qualified.”

The expansion would bump the current enrollment up from 140 to possibly an additional 18 to 20 students and create an additional afternoon session. It would also require the hiring of a full-time coordinator position. The position would not be a full “principalship” position, but would hold similar responsibilities.

McDermott noted that the program wouldn’t tap into the general fund. House File 877, which was passed in 2007, allows districts in Iowa to count a 4-year-old as 0.60 of a student and allot more state aid for the pre-school programs in the state.

Board member Nat Turner asked if there would be a need for this additional section in the future.

“If you look at the growth of the program, it’s grown every year,” Board president Andy Elbert said.

“This program is not going to go away,” Board member Don Poynter said.

“I think our need is great enough to take that gamble,” McDermott added.

Every board member, with the exception of Bill Perrenoud, voted to approve the district’s expansion of its low-income-based pre-school.

Isaac noted during his report that board members who wanted to file for re-election may begin to do so on July 8. To get on the ballot, a person needs a petition with at least 50 signatures. Aug. 1 is the final day to file. Election Day is Sept. 5, and the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Increases in administrative salaries for 2013-2014 also were approved. The approval will bump total administrative salaries from $1,401,969 in the current fiscal year to $1,437,019 for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

During the discussion before the approval of the salary increases for administrators, board member Sheri Benson asked if the board was “being good stewards of our tax payers” by considering the salary increase.

“We are being good stewards,” McDermott replied. “We will continue to look at benefit packages in the future (for administrators).”

The district currently pays for health and dental care for administrators and their families and that cost will go up to $19,872 and $1,258 respectively during the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

“We are staying on top of this,” Isaac said.

The board approved a myriad of other items as well:

• School fees will remain at the same rate going into next school year. Isaac noted that most administrators recommended this.

• Membership in the Iowa Association for Education Purchasing was renewed. Membership is also free.

• Membership in the Iowa Association of School Boards was renewed. Poynter noted that this membership would be helpful for possible new board members in the fall. Membership renewal costs $8,541.

• Membership in the Iowa School Finance Information Services group was renewed. Isaac said the member ship was, “Well worth it as far as he was concerned.” An ISFIS subscription fee is based on a district’s budgeted enrollment, with a minimum cost of $300 and a maximum cost of $2,750. By renewing early, the district will receive a 5 percent discount and have a subscription rate of $2612.50.

• The first reading of board policy 100 on Educational Philosophy and 200 on School/Board of Directors passed. It was noted that there are no major changes within the language of either document from previous versions.

• The board approved salary increases for 2013-2014 non-union classified staff. This group includes head custodians, specialist, supervisors and managers, and secretaries. The district projects $18,000 in savings from potential staff turnover from the secretaries and supervisors/managers category.

The board went into closed session to discuss the final item on the agenda the proposed sale of the former Administration Building and Maytag Mansion located at 807 S. 6th Ave W. Real Estate site zillow.com estimates the home to be valued at $162,357.

As of press time a final decision had not been announced.

Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at trushing@newtondailynews.com.

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