Audit decreases Holton FTE by 12.6 students
Some pressing fiscal matters were the focus of Holton’s school board meeting on Monday, the first of the new calendar year.
One of the first items addressed was the report from the Kansas State Department of Education-mandated audit of USD 336 that took place back in December, with superintendent Dennis Stones noting the district would be losing 12.6 students from its full-time equivalency headcount.
That hit to the FTE numbers amounts to a loss of $48,532 in funding for the Holton school district, Stones said.
Various factors led to the FTE changes following the audit, with the failure to verify free-and-reduced students leading to some of the biggest FTE losses (though Stones noted district employees made numerous efforts to get that information from district patrons).
Another change revolved around technical education courses and a categorical error. Enrollment for some introductory courses were counted towards FTE when they should not have been, a fact that the audit pointed out.
Stones also told the board that some of the changes will be challenged as the district lost some FTE for transportation regarding students that the audit noted should not qualify for district transportation, though Stones noted he has maps that show otherwise.
While this is a hit to the district’s budget, Stones noted it has already been factored in and he noted the district will be able to manage.
Holton may be able to absorb this blow, but educational funding in Kansas is no small matter right now and that was another topic discussed by the school board on Monday.
Stones shared some literature with the board members regarding the Shawnee County District Court’s recent ruling that the funding for public schools in the state of Kansas is inadequate.
Two documents, including analysis of the three-judge panel decision from the Kansas Association of School Boards and a report from the Senate Standing Committee, highlighted the suggested base state aid per pupil of $4,654.
Other documents Stones shared with the board included a Kansas Legislative report from the K-12 Student Performance and Efficiency Commission as well as a minority report from the same commission.
The majority report called for action that could change the process of how districts make their budgets, like a proposal to “establish a task force to set guidelines for efficient operation of school districts, which would be used as benchmarks in annual performance audits conducted as part of the statutorily-required audits…” Stones also pointed out some ideas discussed in the report of possibly outsourcing custodial services, food services, etc. in the district.
Meanwhile, the minority report had one major proposal that addressed mandatory items in teacher salary negotiations.
All this information doesn’t add up to any certainties, which Stones noted, especially with the state overall facing its own budget issues. He said speculation points to money being taken from KPERS, road construction, etc. and the potential for 10 percent in funding cuts across the board. The governor’s State of the State address is set for Thursday night.
In a time when budgets are in flux, the board did receive some good news on Monday as Hollis and Miller Architects and Nabholz Construction spoke to the board as plans for the new elementary building are entering their final phase and everything is on budget and in line with the $21.5 million bond the district passed.
According to Hollis and Miller, 99 percent of the construction drawings are complete and the next phase of the project is to get them finalized and set the project to bid.
Representatives of Nabholz noted there was a good turnout at the sub-contractors summit in December for local businesses and they have set Feb. 24 as the bid date, with plans to put together a construction management manual with bid requirements and a master schedule between now and then.
Board members Bob Phillips and Steve Bowser questioned Nabholz and Hollis and Miller about changes that have been made and any changes that would be made during the construction after some reservations regarding the district’s last major construction project (the HHS Art/FACS building).
The architects and construction managers noted that no aesthetic changes have been made since the last presentation, with both working so the district gets the most out its money, and any changes made in the process of construction would merely be made in regards to cutting costs and not changing appearance.
“We won’t make any big cosmetic changes without your approval of it,” Stones added.
After discussing the arrival of the construction phase, the board made a note to address groundbreaking on the project at the February meeting.
The board also addressed the following topics on Monday:
*Approved the consent agenda items including the minutes of the previous meeting, warrants and payroll.
The board also accepted the resignations of Kim Brooks (HMS assistant seventh-grade volleyball coach), Theresa Watkins (HMS seventh-grade volleyball coach), Carlene McManigal (HHS assistant softball coach), Dylan Myers (custodian/groundskeeper), Shannacy Schimmel (Central para) and Lori Gakle (ACE para) and hired Sharon Mitchell (WAC SPED para), Jennifer Johnston (RVMS SPED para) and Sam Kimmi (Central SPED para).
*Received a Thank You note from Banner Creek Science Center for the district’s support.
*Noted that certified staff were e-mailed a reminder of the Jan. 15 deadline for the $1,500 early retirement bonus.
*Discussed the possibility of performance contracting for HHS and HMS regarding heating and cooling in the buildings. Maintenance director Mike Porter recommended at least replacing the boilers to help with savings. With the ongoing construction of a new building, the board decided to take no action at this time.
*Addressed the tax exempt status of purchased property, for which USD 336 was approved. It was noted the process will need to be completed again once the district takes final possession of the fair buildings and grounds.
*Discussed implementing a policy for bus rentals and requested for transportation director Joe Kelly to come back with a proposal at the next regular board meeting.
*Met in executive session to discuss teacher salary negotiations for 15 minutes. No decisions were made when back in regular session.
*Met in executive session to discuss matters pertaining to non-elected personnel for 20 minutes.
*Approved the extension of administrative contracts through 2016.
*Noted the presence of all board members.
*Adjourned meeting at 8:21 p.m.