Finance Committee makes recommendation
By Ben Rodgers
The Manawa School Board will have a recommendation to establish a fund with the sole purpose of paying for capital projects.
The Finance Committee voted at its Tuesday, Sept. 12 meeting to recommend the establishment of a Fund 46.
The new fund will be tied to a long-term maintenance plan that was approved at the same time.
“By adopting this and establishing the fund, that’s all we’re doing,” said Carmen O’Brien, business manager. “Within so many days, I need to open a separate account for Fund 46. I do that, I can put in a dollar just to open the account and then we can determine how we want to do that.”
This will allow the district to start saving for capital projects listed on its long-term plan. Funds will be available only for items listed on the plan.
However, the plan can be modified anytime with full board approval.
There are no stipulations requiring deposits into this fund.
This will not adversely affect state aid calculations. Any monies moved into the fund will count as expenditures.
“We would get hopefully a comprehensive plan together for how we would like to spend that money in the future, but in the meantime, we should get this going,” she said.
O’Brien said she would also consult with committees and the full board before moving any money into the new account.
In April 2014, a state statute was approved giving districts the ability to create a fund like this.
Many districts across the state have already established a Fund 46.
At the meeting, the committee only approved a recommendation to approve the fund, not to allocate any funds into it.
“We’re planning for future generations to make sure the district is stable for students years in the future,” said Dr. Melanie Oppor, district administrator.
In order to have a Fund 46, the committee also had to agree to recommend a long-term maintenance plan.
The district has an eight-page plan provided by Hoffman Planning, Design & Construction that outlines items for both buildings that need to be replaced, the estimated cost, the priority of the project and the time frame to have it completed.
“Basically this is the plan that Hoffman has provided us and through our study has told us all the things that need to be fixed and done,” O’Brien said. “So this would be considered our long-term maintenance plan tied to Fund 46.”
Three projects already listed on the plan, boiler replacement and water heater replacement at the elementary school, and main entrance replacement at the junior/senior high school are awaiting final bid tabulation.
However, an early estimate puts the projects at significantly less than budgeted.
The total anticipated cost of the three projects was $593,481. Bid projections show that amount to be closer to $326,857.
“Timing was everything with this,” Oppor said. “This is the start of the offseason so businesses like this are seeking work. And both of the low bidders have already worked with us and expressed satisfaction in working with the district.”
Approval of the companies that bid out the work will be voted on by the full board at the Sept. 18 meeting.
O’Brien also presented the committee with an updated 2017-18 budget.
Her total estimated revenue for the district is $7.83 million, while expenses are estimated to be $7.81 million. This would put the district $17,277 in the black.
“It’s not a firm number, but it’s a very conservative number, if anything it’s going to be higher,” she said of the revenues.
The district budget could change when the state budget is eventually finalized.
For planning purposes, O’Brien included in her calculations the $250 per-student aide proposed by Gov. Scott Walker.
“I have not heard any negative talk about it, so I think we’re safe in assuming it at this point,” she said.
Finally, the committee gave O’Brien guidance on implementing a wage matrix for support staff that was approved in December 2016. It contained a 1.26 percent raise on top of a consumer price index raise.
She questioned whether the motion applied to all employees.
“The intent was 1.26 across the board,” said Héléne Pohl, finance chair. “If we do it for regular staff, we should follow suit with support staff using the same rationale. I would feel better if we approved it or not approved it with a formal motion.”
O’Brien will apply the 1.26 percent raise to all support staff employees. But once they move up in the matrix, they will only get a raise that keeps them in line with what was outlined.
“Very few people actually fall into the matrix as they’re supposed to,” she said.
This will result for some in higher raises now, followed by lower raises as they move up in years, to keep them in line with the matrix.
Pohl said support staff wages should be increased but never lowered.
“To ensure trust among our employees, this is the wage model,” Oppor said. “I think it should go into the wage and salary guide. This is how it works.”