Friday, October 28, 2011

October 2011

I really need to get more clever in my post titles . . . *sigh*

The Swanton Board of Education had 2 meetings in October.  The first was a special meeting held on the 11th to discuss negotiations.  Our interim superintendent hadn't been warned  informed about how things happen in our district, and had no idea that anyone at all - let alone a sizable group of teachers - would bother to attend a special meeting that would consist only of an executive session.  Thus he had set out only enough chairs for those participating in the meeting itself, and as the teachers began streaming into the building, chairs had to be quickly brought out.  He apologized to those in the audience.  We retired to the back room, held our executive session, came out about an hour later and adjourned.  Not a whole lot of excitement there.  (Ms. Tyson did not attend)

Our regular board meeting was held on October 18th, and all board members were present.  After our standard opening procedures, a special commendation was presented to retiring Park School secretary, Carol Arvin, in recognition of her many years of service.  Walking into Park School just won't be the same without her smiling face to greet you!  Mrs. Arvin will be greatly missed, and we wish her well on her retirement.

During our Hearing of the Public, a parent addressed the Board about our policy on cell phone discipline, specifically the confiscation portion. 

In attendance that evening was our acting treasurer, Arlene Wilson, who then presented the treasurer's reports.  Under "old business", minutes of our two prior meetings were approved as presented, as were the budgets for the class of 2015, Middle School student council, and Crestwood.  Financial reports were also approved as presented, but I have to say that some of those reports routinely give me more questions than answers - such as, why are we buying so much pizza (among other things) ? 

Under "new business" for the treasurer, we approved two payments in lieu for students' transportation to private schools.  That is required by law . . . when I think of all the gas money I shelled out for hauling my 3 kids to private school, and then did the same for my grandson, it makes my eyes water.  C'est la vie

We then were presented the contract for our audit.  We discussed the merits of the cash accounting approach vs. GAAP before approving the contract as presented.

Our 5 year forecast was next on the agenda.  This is required to be filed with the state twice each year, with the Oct. 31st deadline rapidly approaching.  You can see it here.  Also important with the raw numbers is to read over the explanatory notes - you can see them here.   You might notice that even with Personnel Services holding steady (meaning: no increase in salaries) in fiscal years 2013-2016, our carryover keeps disappearing.  In 2012 we show a $1.3 million deficit spending.  In 2013 that jumps to $2 million - and in 2014 it's up to $2.8 million in deficit spending.  The carryover monies by 2014 are down from $6.2 million in 2012 to $1.3 million - with no salary increases

Now, a forecast is just that: a forecast.  It is our best guess, given what we know today.  If more people get back to work, our income tax revenue will go up.  If the economy picks up overall, our property tax revenue will also increase.  Will either of those two things happen to a significant degree to offset these negative numbers in our forecast?  I'm not a betting man, but if I were - I would not bet on it.

Under the superintendent's section of our meeting, we approved personnel as presented.  We decided to change our November meeting date to accomodate the state conference, so our next meeting will be Nov. 22nd.  We also approved our standard contract with the NWO ESC for those students who are assigned there for instructional services.

With the recent change in ballot timing, we have to place our request for renewal of the Emergency Levy on the March 2012 ballot.  We took the first step toward its placement on the ballot at our October meeting and will finalize the process in November.

Building reports had been submitted by each principal, and while I recognize that these reports are part of their job - I still really appreciate the time each one puts into telling us as a Board what things are happening in their respective buildings.  Instead of a cursory overview, we are given really good information - thanks to Mrs. Lutz, Mrs. Baz, Mr. Haselman and Mr. Gfell!

A discussion on the Swanton Rec program informed us that they are still working toward becoming an independent entity - which was our goal several years ago.  The money collected through a school district-based levy is dwindling, and the Rec Board is working to make sure the program will be self-sustainable.  I asked Kris Oberheim if she knew how many of our participating kids paid reduced fees or no fees at all, and learned that it is only 2 or 3 kids.  Soccer rules and coach code of conduct documents were presented to us for our approval, which we gave.

Under #8 - Comments from Board Members - Michelle Tyson had a small plaque indicating her (self-)nomination as "Outstanding Board Member" which she had received at a regional OSBA dinner recently.  She gave it to Chris Wood for display in the Board Office.

Kris Oberheim and Mona Dyke spoke about the "mix it up" lunch at the middle school, which went really well, with great participation from the students.

We had an executive session at the end, to discuss negotiations and employee employment.  We then came out and adjourned.

Soon we will be holding interviews for the open Treasurer's position in our district.  Our plan is to include the newly elected board members in the process after Nov. 8th.

Which reminds me:  please take your vote seriously!  Do not vote for someone or something because of relationships with friends - vote based on what is best for our district and our state. 

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