Our regularly scheduled school board meeting was held on April 27th. All board members were present, along with the superintendent and treasurer.
Board President, Mona Dyke, passed out board commendations to the Middle School/High School Destination Imagination team, as well as to several of Mr. Kaufman's accounting students. Band Director, Pam Kazmierczak, shared information on the high school band's trip to Washington, D.C. over spring break. What a great trip they had! Also, Mona shared a thank you note received from Parents' Club for help at the recently held school carnival (which was a huge success, netting over $17,000 profit!).
Mr. Ueberroth requested that the meeting minutes of March 30th be removed from the Consent Agenda, as he had not been able to attend that evening. All other items of the Consent Agenda were passed, including items from the treasurer as well as the superintendent.
During "New Business", treasurer Cheryl Swisher shared her most recent draft of the 5 yr. forecast. This draft included the new administrators' contracts passed a few months ago as well as the 3% increase to the base for the teachers' contract. Other items were also tweaked, as she attempted to forecast various revenue sources and expenses. The Board will need to vote on this draft at our May meeting, as it needs to be filed with the state at the end of the month.
A screen was in the room with the 5 yr. forecast draft displayed on it, but the numbers were a bit too small to see from across the room. Property tax revenue was better than earlier forecasted, as Swanton schools only experienced a 3% decrease in collections, versus the projected 15-20% potential decrease. The current draft forecast used actual amounts collected.
House bill 66 (HB 66) at the state level was being phased out, and in 2010 is completely gone. Close to $455,000 was subtracted from this revenue line.
Some of you have probably noticed the result of our income tax levy reduction - down from 1.25% to 0.75% for collection. It has been calculated that the current levy rate will collect approximately $1.4 million per year.
A line for Unrestricted Grant money from the state and federal "stimulus" package also shows a reduction, projected at a loss of 6.5%. This decrease in funding is currently not being replaced by the state in any other fashion.
A line item for "Other Revenue" shows a decrease of $33,267 in 2010.
On the Expense side, salaries were calculated at a bare minimum from 2011-14, along with a 2% increase each year for steps payments (which teachers get by state law, regardless of whether any other raise is added to their base salaries). While we have several retirements slated for fiscal year 2011, the draft uses these monies for replacements of current staff as well as adding some others. In 2012, the draft shows $66,000 added for staffing and $33,000 in 2013.
Benefits were calculated using a 3-8% increase from 2011 to 2014 - however, unless so-called "Obamacare" is repealed, by 2013 all health benefits will be through the government and not through employers or the private sector.
Purchased Services is being budgeted at an average annual increase of 6.22%. We have saved some money here by reducing services through the ESC ($183,000) and joining the Ohio School Plan consortium for electric services. Our attorney fees also have been reduced by switching to a local attorney in Toledo instead of using the Cincinnati guys and their expensive drive time.
All of that is to say that our 5 yr. draft forecast shows deficit spending of $410,909 in fiscal year 2011; deficit spending of over $2.3 million in 2012; and deficit spending of over $3.34 million in 2013. By the year 2014, the entire carryover amount of over $8 MILLION dollars is GONE, and we are in the hole over $2 MILLION dollars.
How many of you still have jobs? How many of you are on the verge of losing your homes? How many of you received no raise in pay last year? Many of you, I know - and all of us have had our expenses go up at the gas pump and grocery store and electric bill and heating bill . . .
All of these items on the 5 year forecast are done with YOUR MONEY, and mine. Some of our teachers' money, too, of those who live in our district.
Think about it.
One item in New Business from the Superintendent was to add back Department Chairs for grades K-5 (6) and grades 6-12 (4). These are at 5% supplemental pay for the lower grade department chairs and at 11% for the others (by SEA contract language). These positions had been eliminated back when the district was in "fiscal caution" before - and at the meeting, I said that it would be a terrible shame if we brought them back now - but only had to eliminate them again in a couple of years. . .
One of our board members has had a personal crusade for awnings at the two elementary schools, because some parents drop their kids off before the doors of the buildings are open and if it's raining, well, they get wet. (no umbrellas, I guess . . . ) Anyway, the superintendent had done some pricing research, etc. on getting these awnings, and it's much more complicated than at first blush. (If you want details, give Paulette a call.) One of the lowest cost estimates was around $21,000!! To keep a handful of kids dry when they're dropped off early on a rainy day!!
The Emperor has no clothes!!
But - our two elementary principals had other options to explore that wouldn't cost us much, if anything, and the kids would stay dry AND no teacher would need to be involved so it wouldn't interfere with their contracts. Sounded like a win-win to me.
In addition, there are some parents who refuse to abide by the rules when dropping off or picking up their children by getting in the way of our buses! Unbelievable - and unsafe!! (And exactly what lessons do these parents think they are teaching their kids by these actions, I wonder?? ) So options for traffic patterns and parking at both elementary schools will be reviewed, to see what EVERYONE ELSE can do to help those little ones whose mommie or daddy refuse to do what they're supposed to do. sheesh
Rick Kazmierczak has a Beautification Program set up for Swanton, and we are going to be involved with the area around the high school. A work day of June 5th has been scheduled. There were also a few things that will be completed in time for commencement this year (on May 28th). It's a great idea, and should be a super way for all of us to pitch in together for a common cause. I'm looking forward to it!
Phase 2 of the "Race to the Top" federal grant program is now in full swing, and the superintendent asked the Board to approve participation. I spoke just briefly against it, before the vote was taken (I was the only "no" vote - chances are whenever there is a "no" vote, it is mine). While I applaud all efforts to do what we can to work together with the SEA on projects, and while I would love for our district to have the money, I do NOT love the federal strings attached to this. There has never been a federal program that improved anything. Never. And I prefer to keep federal fingers out of our school district whenever we can. There may come a time when we are forced to participate - the feds carry a big stick - but we'll deal with that when the time comes. For right now, we will not be participating in Phase 2 - not because of the BOE, but because the SEA has declined to participate unless their additional Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is approved. This is the same MOU that our attorney advised against before. So no Phase 2 for Swanton School District.
There were several committee reports given, including Swanton Recreation, Parents Club, Strategic Planning, the Ohio Improvement Process (OIP), and random drug testing for all extra-curricular participants.
We also talked a bit about the request to look at laptops for Board member packets. Apparently the district already owns several laptops so no purchase would need to be made. Further information will be forthcoming on this issue.
Our next regular board meeting is scheduled for May 25th.
We had an executive session at the very end of the evening. No vote or action was taken during executive session (other than me eating that orange bread and some pretzels).