Wednesday, November 24, 2010

USD 383 Board of Education

Nov. 17, 2010
Kathy Dzewaltowski, observer

Regular meeting:
Dr. Bob Shannon, Superintendent, presented the board with the latest information about state funding. The school district may not receive all of the state funding it was anticipating receiving when the board set the budget. The state may lower its per pupil funding by $75, reduce the amount of aid districts receive for the Local Option Budget, and federal stimulus funds have ended. The total decrease in funds for USD 383 will be approximately $2.7 million. Dr. Shannon plans to reconvene the finance committee to begin working on options for reducing the budget.

The board was presented with new course information and course title changes for the middle schools and high school in business and computers. The business courses needed to be revised to meet Dept. of Education requirements. The middle schools currently don't have enough staff to offer the new courses proposed, so board members were being asked to approve the courses in advance of when the courses would actually be available. The board approved 7-0 the proposed courses with the exception of the middle school courses, which were tabled until such time as there is sufficient staff to be able to offer them.

Board members discussed the city's intention to charge the school district for drinking water used in attendance centers, which had been provided free to the district due to an agreement established in 1887. Dave Colburn said that he thought the city was wrong to go back on the agreement, but he didn't think it was the district's responsibility to make the city accountable. Colburn did not want to spend any taxpayer money pursuing the water issue. Doug Messer agreed and said the city and the school district should be able to figure out a way to handle the situation without paying attorneys. Nancy Knopp was concerned about how much legal action would cost the district and wanted assurance that the board would be provided with regular updates and be able to stop proceedings at any point. Pete Paukstelis said he thought the water issue was worth pursuing with legal action because it's a matter of principle. Paukstelis also said the city has honored the agreement for 123 years and then decided not to because it wasn't convenient anymore to do so, and he wondered what other agreements between the city and the school district might the city decide to no longer honor. The board approved 5-2 to direct the board's attorney to take the necessary steps to enforce the district's water rights. Colburn and Messer dissented.

The board was presented with a bid to perform a feasibility study for the district's vacant property in Miller Ranch to determine if the site was appropriate for a school. When the board discussed the property during its Oct. 27 meeting, board members had indicated a desire to have a disinterested third party perform the study. BG Consultants of Manhattan had been asked to submit a proposal, and Knopp and Messer expressed concerns that more bids hadn't been submitted and that the firm might have an advantage over other firms if the district did decide to build a school on the site in the future. Paukstelis suggested that the agreement made with BG Consultants could include making all documents available to potential architecture or engineering firms to eliminate any advantage. The board approved the bid 7-0.

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