Thursday, the school board:
- Granted permission to advertise for bids on the air conditioning projects at Meridian Elementary and Clay City Elementary, retro-fitting the windows and fixing the roof at Meridian and replacing the chiller at Northview High School.
- Approved the new employee handbooks.
- Voted to pass on having an "end-of-year" meeting.
- Gave Schad and Burns the go ahead to take care of any necessary year-end financial transactions necessary.
- Approved secondary course changes.
By LYNN HAMILTON
Superintendent Bill Schad's report at the Clay Community Schools Board of Trustees meeting Thursday night included "information on cash balance and staffing". Randy Burns shared the estimate of the Corporation's budget. A discussion ensued about what adjustments will have to be made concerning personnel.
Schad introduced the topic by saying, "We're probably going to be much better off than we thought we would be." Exactly "how much better," he said, "will hinge on the tax draws."
Upon receipt of all the tax payments on the "interim work papers," which is not guaranteed, Burns figures the cash balance will be around $1.9 million. Schad was quick to add that this is "not money to spend," but rather a "very brief snapshot of what we have that day."
School Board President Steven Grigsby said he was "very pleased with this report." If Burns' estimate is accurate, the School Corporation will have around $1 million more at the end of 2003 than was previously projected.
There is still "a lot of uncertainty," according to Burns. The cost of insurance renewals and several other numbers he used in figuring the budget may vary. Also no one knows yet what the tax rates will be. It is possible, he said that he "could still be off $300,000 or $400,000.
After deducting a few other expenses, Burns predicted that Clay Community Schools will be approximately $300,000 in the hole at the start of the year with no personnel changes. Grigsby noted that if that is the case, seven or more teachers will have to be "riffed" in the spring just to break even.
The School Board might be able to postpone such action by using funds from the CAPE grant to pay a few of the teachers' salaries, but that money will not be available for long. Although Schad admits it is "only a Band-Aid fix," doing so "will get us through two years," until the grant expires.
He went on to say that he hopes to lower the number of positions that must be done away with. However, he told the Board, "I don't know how optimistic I am about being able to do that."
Board member Joe Thomas questioned the fact that although at least seven teachers will potentially lose their jobs in the spring, hiring Kevin Dean as a new math teacher at Northview was listed in the meetings personnel action. He said he could not "sit here and consciously hire a man knowing" he and the rest of the Board would be asked to vote to "kick him out next spring."
Thomas further pointed out that if they had not hired five teachers last fall, the day before school started, this would not be such a pressing issue now.
At Grigsby's request, the Board members agreed to schedule a work session. Next Thursday, they will discuss the matter after they have had time to review the information Burns provided.
Although Thomas made it clear that he believes Dean is qualified for the math teacher position, he voted against hiring him during personnel action. Jon Hull and Robert Atkinson also opposed the new hire, but the motion still carried, 4-3.