School Board considers how to deal with issues
The budget for the 2014-2015 school year was approved at July’s Wahkiakum School District’s Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday.
The reserve in the general fund will be $200,000, approximately $455,000 less than two years ago, and staff will be tightening their belts.
“The game has changed,” Superintendent Bob Garrett said. “Everyone is going to have a budget to live with.”
Two big worries have the school district wondering how to generate more revenue.
The first issue was aging technology. Principal Stephanie Leitz voiced her concerns about how aging technology in the school district left students less competitive as they entered the workforce.
With school violence on the rise around the country, the second issue was security. Risk management services surveyed the campus earlier this year and have forwarded a report to administrators, with a list of changes they believe need to be made.
“You never think [the violence] would happen here, but it’s something we should be prepared for,” School Board Member Sue O’Connor said. “It’s timely.”
A capital projects levy may be on the ballot in November. Capital project levies are allowed to fund technology costs and facility security related issues, according to Garrett. If it passed, it would also free up some money in the general fund.
“I think it’s the right thing to do,” Garrett said. “If the community doesn’t want to fund it then it won’t happen. But we should give the community an opportunity to support it.”
Garrett is also looking into endowment funds as a revenue source at School Board Member Tim Hanigan’s request.
The school board will gather for a special meeting on August 4 at 5:30 p.m. to discuss whether to add a capital project levy to provide up to date security and technology to students to the November ballot.
Lunch prices will go up an additional $0.25 in the fall. With the meal budget in the red, Hanigan suggested that the adult price be raised as well. There will be more discussion with staff regarding the issue.
A few changes that were made to school handbooks were approved by the school board. The changes touched on cell phone use, bullying, tobacco products, skip days, excused absences, and communication between coaches and administration.
Leitz happily reported that the school was officially fully accredited.
In a special meeting on July 17, the board met to discuss how to free up funds in the budget in order to address the large class sizes and hire more teachers.
Garrett announced that Leitz and Principal Theresa Libby planned to take over the supervision and coordination of special programs, LAP/ELL/Bilingual, thus freeing up Jamie Morace Dallas to move over to a teaching position.
In addition to the teacher who will be hired to fill Sandy Hendrickson’s spot for one year, the school district will be hiring one extra teacher to work in the middle school.
“I think it’s very commendable that the two ladies are willing to add to their plate of responsibilities,” Garrett said. “They are very busy as it is. It is another indication of the great administrators that we have in the two principals that they are willing to do that. They too believe in what is best for kids and they recognize that small class sizes are best if we can make it happen.”
The next regular school board meeting is set for August 19 at 7 p.m., an hour and a half later than usual, in order to accommodate a school board member who has a scheduling conflict.