MSD approves rest of budget: $399,299 shortfall

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MEEKER I The highlight of the Jan. 19 Meeker School Board meeting was the re-approval of the Fiscal Year/School Year 2015-2016 district budget of $6,299,485. Included in this budget is a projected deficit of $399,229, which will come out of the district’s reserves.

The budget revision was approved on a 6-0 vote with board member Tom Allen being absent.
The 2015-16 budget was initially adopted June 16, 2015, as required by state law to be done by June 30. Similarly, the current budget has to be revisited and revised, if necessary, by Jan. 31. The good news is that the district was able to reduce its current projected budget deficit from $749,697 to $399,299.
According to Superintendent Chris Selle, this $350,468 deficit reduction is due to an additional $169,439 coming in from the state due to a bill passed by the Legislature last session aimed at helping small rural schools, reduced personnel costs resulting from fewer filled positions, and some larger-than-expected formula grants that materialized.
The board confirmed the assignments of individual board members to school related committees. Members assigned were Bob Dorsett to the District Leadership Team, Todd Shults to the District Accountability Committee (DAC), and Tom Allen, board vice president, to the Meeker Education Foundation.
Shults reported for the DAC that they were revisiting the two-year strategic plan and recommending an overhaul that will be more streamlined.
Superintendent Selle is asking for a revision that will be available for board consideration at its February meeting to be followed by community comment and interaction.
Meeker Elementary School Principal Kathy Collins reported 28 preschool through fifth-grade students had perfect attendance for the fall semester. She also expressed appreciation for White River Electric Association donating an additional $500 toward Chrome books (hand-held computer tablets) allowing completion of the acquisition of 25 devices for each grade level.
Meeker High School Principal Amy Chinn expressed appreciation to Sharon Clapper, Regas Halandras, Florence Hazelbaker, Michele Morgan, Norma Oldland and Melinda Parker, through the efforts of the high school Building Accountability Committee, for donating the funds for the Chamber Bucks awarded the 13 high school students recognized at halftime at the boys’ basketball game Jan. 15 for perfect fall semester attendance.
Chinn also reported that eight seniors were effectively “done on site” at the high school and therefore essentially graduated already. These seniors are expected to walk with the class at 2016 graduation on June 4.
Selle presented a draft letter to the board that is expected to be sent to parents and guardians this week describing the current status and schedule for state student assessments. The letter explains that efforts have been made at the state and federal level to reduce and minimize testing disruptions to normal classroom learning.
The letter further emphasizes that while parents are allowed to opt their students out of these state-mandated tests, the test results are nevertheless used to evaluate our schools and determine accreditation.
“It’s of great benefit to the district,” Selle wrote in the draft approved by the board, “to have all students take the tests so that data we receive is a representative demonstration of student learning. We ask your help by encouraging your child to take the tests seriously and to put forth his or her best effort.”
Selle reported that in his survey of the district teaching staff, the teachers overall indicated that the state assessment data are of value.
Selle also reported on two sizable lots in the Sanderson Hills subdivision that were deeded to the district for public use when the subdivision was approved (uphill from the intersection of Sanderson and Jill Drives).
He said that a church had contacted him for possible acquisition of the lots. The town is to be contacted to see if sale by the district would be possible.
Personnel hires approved by the board included the following: substitutes Rochelle Quinn, Joanne Sauter and Ann Franklin; and Todd Morris as head wrestling coach, JC Watt as assistant wrestling coach; and Lee Overton and Chris Selle as volunteers.