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USD 410 projects more funding loss

Staff writer

Continued falling enrollment and the end of federal stimulus funds will cost USD 410 about $207,000 in lost revenue for the 2011-12 school year.

“We’re really going to take a hit next year,” Superintendent Steve Noble told the board of education Monday.

He projected weighted enrollment, which the state uses to determine funding, will fall from 582.6 to 560.7. Under the existing funding formula, that would result in a loss of about $186,000 of state funds. Additionally, $20,850 of federal funds will expire after this school year.

The timing of the economic downturn was especially damaging to USD 410. Voters approved bonds for several capital improvement projects while the economy was still humming along, Noble said. Soon after, though, the economy turned sour, hurting property values and tax collections. That combination forced the district to increase the tax levy for bond payments.

In an effort to soften the blow for taxpayers, the school board reduced the capital outlay levy from 8 to 5.1 mills. One of the planned spending cuts is in vehicle replacement. Noble said the district could safely extend the lifetimes of buses from 10 years to 12 or 13.

District office

One project approved during better economic times was the purchase and renovation of the current Midway Motors building to use as a district office. But the renovation is likely to be less expensive than originally planned.

Board members instructed project manager Jantz Construction to send the project out for bids in three portions. Contractors are to submit bids to renovate the front offices and bathrooms as the main bid with a proposed board room, two back offices, and a back bathroom as one optional addition, and a west vestibule as another option.

The separation of the project was because Jantz Construction was unable to get a licensed architect or structural engineer to approve plans for the renovation, which is required if the project costs more than $100,000. The total project’s estimated cost is $250,000.

Hiring an architect or engineer to re-make the plans would probably be costly, Vince Jantz said.

Board member Rod Koons said the building would be virtually unusable for the district office in its current condition.

“There was a reason you wanted to do this,” Noble said.

The district moved its offices from Hillsboro Elementary School to the basement of Emprise Bank to make room for expanded early childhood education, he said.

Board members approved sending the project out for bids.

A revised agreement with Jantz Construction was approved. The company will receive either $6,000 plus the cost of bonding the project or 8.5 percent of the total project cost, whichever is greater. Koons proposed the $6,000 minimum because Jantz Construction has already put a lot of work into the project.

In other business:

  • Communities in Schools of Marion County has ended its affiliation with state and national Communities in Schools groups and has changed its name to Families and Communities Together. Director Linda Ogden discussed the results of the 2010 Communities that Care survey, taken by 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th graders. The survey measures risk and protective factors related to drug use and other harmful behaviors. In a majority of areas, USD 410 showed lower risk and better protective factors than the state average.
  • Hillsboro Middle School teachers Anne Janzen and Michele Melton gave a presentation about the school’s system for improving struggling students’ reading skills. The program focuses on evaluation, intervention, and monitoring progress. The extra instruction replaces an elective for participating students.
  • Noble reviewed Kansas Association of School Boards’ recommended policy updates. A policy on drug-detecting dogs prompted interest from board members. Noble said the district has a contract each year for a drug-detecting dog to search the school on a few random days. The program is primarily a deterrent, he said.
  • Hillsboro United Methodist Church purchased five wireless access points and a wireless switch for $600. The equipment was replaced when schools updated wireless systems to accommodate heavy use from laptop computers issued to the students.
  • Families and Communities Together purchased a laptop computer for $901, the same as the school’s cost.
  • Ebenfeld Mennonite Brethren Church received an unused overhead projector at no cost. Noble said the projector was just taking up space.
  • District technology director Jason Henry will have help from a few students addressing common problems with school-issued laptops beginning in January.
  • Kansas Broadband Internet has not made a $25,000 payment that was due to the district in May for a spectrum lease. Noble has tried to contact the company, but received no response.
  • An extended contract for English-as-a-second-language aide Marcia Findeiss was approved. The contract added one hour per day to assist at HMS.
  • Technology Excellence in Education Network Director Brandi Hendrix received a 1.5 percent raise.
  • The district will deposit operating funds at Hillsboro State Bank, receiving interest of the 91-day treasury bill rate plus 0.255 percent. Central National Bank’s proposal was for just the 91-day treasury bill rate.
  • The board rejected the only bid to hold $47,500 set aside for the athletic facility co-owned with Tabor College. Hillsboro State Bank provided the only bid, .25 percent for a one-year certificate of deposit or .35 percent for a two-year CD. The bank proposed the same offer it made for operating funds, which was approved.

The next Board of Education meeting will be 7 p.m. Nov. 8.

Last modified Oct. 13, 2010

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