More information coming in October
By Bert Lehman
Clinotnville School Superintendent Tom O’ Toole presented a budget at the district’s budget hearing that would keep the school tax levy stable.
O’Toole said Fund 10 (general fund) and Funds 38 and 39 (debt service funds) have the biggest impact on the budget.
He added that the biggest item that impacts the budget is the district’s student count. The third Friday count will take place on Sept. 18.
“That is vital in our calculation of our upcoming budget amount,” O’Toole said.
The actual tax levy will be approved at the Oct. 26 school board meeting.
“What’s approved tonight is with what information we have up to date at this point,” he said.
Last year student enrollment increased by 10 students to 1,391. That is down from 1,457 in 2010. O’Toole said the district is anticipating student enrollment to remain level this year, but the district had enrolled several new students over the last few days.
“I’m kind of anxious to see what our numbers are going to look like this year,” O’Toole said.
O’Toole said the final equalized aids won’t be known until October. He said it has risen the past couple years by one or two percent. The district used an estimate of no increase in aid.
The proposed expenditures for the general fund for 2015-16 includes a 3.6 percent decrease. Last year expenditures increased 3.3 percent.
“The reason we expended more than what we had in revenues had to do with some initiatives that we did from fund balance,” O’ Toole said. “We had some significant technology [expenditures], roofing projects from fund balance that actually increased our expenditures above the revenues for the 2014-15 year.”
The expenditure budget is down from the 2013-14 budget, O’ Toole said. “We are being somewhat frugal with things.”
State aid as a percentage of total revenue for the district is down from 67 percent in 2006-07 to less than 58 percent in 2015-16, O’ Toole said.
The levy to pay off the debt of building the high school will be paid off in 2021-22, O’ Tool said.
He added that the district anticipates the school levy will remain steady at 11.41, based on the current information the district has. Of that amount, $7.40 of the mill rate is for the general fund.
O’Toole shared a couple of tax examples based on owning a $75,000 property and a $150,000 property. This was based on just the general fund and the debt service funds.
For a $75,000 property, O’ Toole said the overall tax impact would decrease from $799 last year to $787 in 2015-16.
For a $150,000 property, O’ Toole said the overall tax impact would decrease from $1,598 last year to $1,574 in 2015-16.
“We have worked pretty hard to find solutions to budget woes, to trim the budget,” O’ Toole said. “… We’ve done well to tighten our belts and maintain programs. You don’t hear a program being eliminated we have going on in school. We still allow students to choose what courses they want to take in high school. That’s a positive thing.”
O’ Toole said healthcare reform is one of the strains on the budget.
“We’re still working through some of the initial impact of the ACA (Affordable Care Act) law, some of the restrictions that we’ll have there,” O’ Toole said. “We have to monitor all that.”
Overall, he said the Clintonville School District is in a “pretty good financial situation.”
“We don’t have to look far to find districts that are in trouble,” O’ Toole said.
During the district’s annual meeting later that night, the proposed budget was approved.
During the district’s annual meeting, School Board President Ben Huber addressed those in attendance.
Huber thanked those in attendance as he said it is important for the community to be involved with the district.
“I would like to encourage those of you here tonight and all in our community to help improve our education system,” Huber said.
Regarding education, Huber said, “Think globally, but act locally.”
He cited Finland and South Korea as countries that typically rank near the top in education, while the United States is usually ranked in the teens.
He said children in South Korea go to school six, sometimes seven days a week.
“Homework is given at a very young age, and a lot of it is given,” Huber said. “Kids are often working 90 hours-plus per week on schoolwork. Effort is more important than inherited giftedness.”
Huber said Finland uses a different strategy.
He said children in Finland attend school five days a week. Classes take up three to five hours per day. Extracurricular activities are encouraged. There is no assigned homework, and students have plenty of free time to pursue their own interests.
He said the reason both countries rank high in education despite different philosophies is because “both make education of their children a priority and both have very high respect for the people who are the educators.”
“We have to do those things locally as well,” Huber said. “It is important to keep education in the forefront of our community discussions, and in our thinking about how we raise our children.”
He said the district should continue to strive to be better and take steps in the direction it feels is right.
He said educators can have the biggest impact on improving education in the district.
“A small thing would be to smile more,” Huber said. “Make sure you interact with children and show an interest in their life. Show children your passion. Be positive because that is contagious. No one feels great everyday but if you smile when you don’t feel much like smiling your attitude improves and so does the attitude of those who interact with you.”
Huber said members of the community need to do the same thing.
He encouraged everyone to attend school events.
“Our school is not perfect, there are things we can do to make it better, but we need to have a community effort to help improve our schools,” Huber said.
Several resolutions were passed during the annual meeting, many relating to the proposed budget.
It was also passed that board members would continue to receive $90 for each regular and special meeting attended, and $50 for each in-service meeting attended. In addition, officers will receive an additional $250 annually and members of the negotiation Committee will each receive $300 annually. Committee and Finance Committee members will receive $20 per meeting, but no more than one paid meeting per month.
Principals from each building in the district also shared the happenings from their building over the past year. Administrators in the district also shared what happened over the last year in their area of responsibility.
During the regular school board meeting held immediately prior to the budget hearing and annual meeting, the board acted on several personnel moves.
It unanimously approved the resignation of Amanda Baxter as an eighth grade teacher, effective immediately. Board member Judy Magee was absent from the regular meeting.
It unanimously approved hiring Ellie Kanke to a fifth grade teaching position, effective with the 2015-16 school year.
It unanimously approved hour modifications for Denise Gunderson (Para I – bus rider), Patricia Wichman (Para I) and Martha Dethardt (Para I).
The board also discussed the CLC after-school program.
O’ Toole said the district has decided to use the name Trucker U to incorporate the before and after school activities for all students in the district.
The board was informed by O’ Toole that the district has received approval and notification of the CLC grant for $50,000.
The district is in the process of recruiting staff to participate in the program.
Trucker U would start around Oct. 1. The program would be Monday through Thursday.