Budget hearing reviews cuts in federal funding
By Katie Zerr
The Mobridge-Pollock School Board heard Monday, July 9, that changes in funding and mandates from the federal and state government will make a difference in how the school district budgets for the 2012-2013 year.
After concluding the old business from the 2011-2012 year, new board member Jane Looyenga was sworn into office by Chief Finance Officer Kim Schneider and the new business year was opened.
Superintendent Tim Frederick told the board, at the 2012-2013 budget hearing, there have been funding cuts to federal programs and there also may be changes in the mandates of how some of that funding is spent.
He explained that title programs (federally funded) were accompanied with mandates on how the funding could be spent. Because South Dakota was granted a waiver from the No Child Left Behind mandates, funds that were previously mandated in professional development may be freed up to spend elsewhere.
He said there would be some re-evaluation of federal programs, but the district expected to have $48,000 in federal funding cut for 2012-2013. Frederick said there would be little or no Impact Aid funding until Congress moves to change the wording of the law. As of now, because Mobridge and Pollock consolidated as a new district, they are not eligible for that funding.
“As you can see by the proposed budget, we are making cuts to supplies, even though the school is growing,” he said. “We have had to add teachers because of that growth, but the funding isn’t there for supplies because our state aid is lacking.”
A summary of the 2012-2013 budget revenues are included, but Frederick reminded the board these numbers are subject to change as the changes occur on the state and national level.
Changes in education
“It is important that the board and the district’s patrons understand how education in South Dakota is changing,” Frederick told the board. “I recommend we hold an open house to explain these changes once the state’s new accountability model is accepted by the federal government.”
He explained the U.S. Department of Education granted South Dakota a waiver from the accountability standards of No Child Left Behind and the state has proposed a new model of accountability.
Key indicators of the new model include student achievement, graduation percentage or academic growth; college and career readiness; effective teachers and administrators; and school climate.
“Right now student achievement is measured in math and reading, but there is some indication that science will also be added,” he said. “Districts must still reach specific goals, but schools that show student growth over the last year will be considered a success.”
He said that standard differs from the previous goals of 100 percent proficiency expected in the NCLB standards.
This accountability will determine which schools will receive support available through federal title programs.
Frederick told the board that seeding of the grass is expected to be done this week, but there will be some sort of barrier (straw) used to keep the soil from eroding during rain events before the seeding is done.
He told the board he has been in contact with all of the contractors involved in the remodeling and renovations. When he gets the final approval of the requested QZAB loan amount, the contractors are ready to move forward with the work on Freeman Davis and the middle school theater.
After talking to local contractors about how the Fourth of July holiday impacted their preparations in the bidding process for the bus barn remodel and renovation, the bid opening date was moved to July 19 at 2 p.m. to allow them more time to get the bids completed. The specs for those bids have been completed and sent to contractors.
Frederick explained to the board that if there are contractors that feel there is a less expensive way to meet the specs than what has been proposed, the board will review these suggestions at a special working meeting with the engineers and architects.
Frederick told the board the elevator in the Upper elementary school is not working properly despite efforts to repair it. He said the policy of just getting by with maintenance and repair has caught up to the district. Two different control boards were installed in the elevator but different technicians and those boards are not compatible. That is believed to be the cause of the interruptions of power that is keeping the door from opening. It will now cost a minimum of $9,600 to get the elevator in working order.
Frederick recommended the district enter into a service contract with Kone Elevtors and Escalators of Aberdeen to keep both elevators serviced on a regular basis to avoid this type of problem in the future. After researching other service contracts, he said the Kone company offers the lowest hourly rate for repairs if needed, although the contract price is higher per month. He said the amount of money saved for repairs is well worth the extra monthly contract cost.
The board approved the service contract with Kone.
– Katie Zerr –