Directors told district has virtually no money for raises
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
There isn’t much revenue for employee compensation next year, forewarned Mt. Pleasant Superintendent of Schools Mike Wells at Monday night’s regular meeting of the Mt. Pleasant School Board.
He said due to an enrollment drop of 63 students in the certified enrollment count (the census dropped from 2,028.73 students last year to 1,964.89 during the current school year) this year, next year the district will receive just 101 percent of this year’s funding or a funding increase of $124,177 in state money.
“We have just $124,177 to provide raises to our staff and any costs over this amount will have an adverse effect on our financial position,” Wells said. “If all our teachers move on the salary schedule (education and longevity pay increases), that would exhaust all the money and we know teachers need raises.”
The funding does not include preschool money or sharing money, he added.
Asked by the board for reasons behind the enrollment drop, Wells said he didn’t have an answer. “We have a transient population but there isn’t any trend established.”
He said he would do a more extensive study on enrollment figures and report back to the board.
Following are the enrollment figures for each grade in the school district. Last year’s enrollment is followed by this year’s number.
Kindergarten — 130, 138; first grade — 126, 136; second grade — 142, 119; third grade — 124. 141; fourth grade — 145, 117; fifth grade — 134, 145; sixth grade — 143, 143;
Seventh grade — 149, 147; eighth grade — 163, 144; ninth grade — 162, 172; 10th grade — 162, 151; 11th grade — 138, 149; 12th grade — 187, 156.
In other financial items, Wells said he will be applying to the School Budget Review Committee (SBRC) for modified allowable growth in one instance and an increase in spending authority in another matter.
The district will be requesting modified allowable growth in the amount of $49,808 for an increase (the increase was 8.3 students) in open enrolled students from the school and $13,466 for LEP students served more than five years. The request does not impact the property tax rate at this time but gives the district authority to include this in property taxes in the future.
Secondly, the district is applying for a $168,000 increase in spending authority due to the new preschool fund. This request, too, does not increase property taxation. Rather, it gives the district the authority to spend $168,000 more during the current school year. Spending authority is similar to a balance on a credit card. It is not actual dollars but the district’s limit on spending. A school district cannot exceed its spending limit during the fiscal year.
In other agenda items, MP Activities Director Scot Lamm proposed purchasing a LED advertisement display board for the high school gym. The board requested further a formal proposal with cost figures and tabled the matter.
Wells also recommended the purchase, reasoning that with growing expenses for uniforms, equipment, training supplies and facilities upgrades, the activities department would like to expand its revenue sources.
“High school athletic venues present a unique addition to the traditional marketing outlets utilized by corporations, businesses, educational institutions and organizations,” Wells said. “Students, their families and sports fans are a desirable audience for the messages advertisers want to deliver.”
Lamm told the board that all the conference schools have similar boards, either inside gyms or outside on the school grounds. Lamm, however, said that instead of purchasing the board from a company manufacturing such devices, he found a local vendor who will provide a board for $8,000.
“The companies who manufacture the boards also sell the advertising, but then they receive a cut of the advertising money and the money goes out of town,” Lamm explained. “I would rather do it locally because then all the revenue will stay in the community.”
He said that Fairfield’s advertising board has 30 business sponsors with a fee of $900 per year per business. Washington’s board has 27 advertising spots and charges each business $725 per year.
“I think our local businesses get hit hard enough,” he continued. “I don’t think it is right to have our businesses advertise and then some of the revenue go out of town.”
Lamm said he would do all the programming to keep costs down.
Construction of a new central school district office is being discussed by the board’s facilities committee, Wells said. The superintendent said the district currently rents space in the former high school (now a library/civic center) for $39,000 per year. However, the city (owner of the building) said rent will increase to $60,000 monthly in July 2015. “We will build a new central office if strategic planning recommends it,” he said.
The facilities committee is also discussing the building of a fine arts center and an early childhood center.
Board committees are also looking at implementing the 1:1 initiative. “The 1:1 certainly is an option for us,” Wells noted.
Piper-Jaffray is studying the district’s bonding capacity. Wells said the district could bond up to $11 million through local option sales tax revenue (LOST) without going to a vote of district patrons.
Personnel items saw the district approve contracts for the following: Amanda Beauchamp, high school one-on-one para-professional; Rachel Neis, food service (six hours per day); Betsabe Carstensen, Lincoln one-on-one para-professional; Alan Peck, assistant girls’ track; and Cindy Nesbitt, middle school night custodian.
Resignations were accepted from Mallery Ludwig, food service (six hours per day); and Cody Vaughn, Lincoln one-on-one para-professional.
Wells said winter volunteer coaches include: wrestling — Darrin Loyd, Travis Smith, Rob Lance and Roger Pross; basketball — Alan Magnani, former Iowa Wesleyan College head men’s basketball coach.
Directors will meet in a special work session Monday, Dec. 2, at 5:30 p.m. in the Central Office to receive the district’s facilities study. The next regular meeting will be Monday, Dec. 16, at 7 p.m. at the high school.