Tax rates, literacy and facilities improvement were on the menu for the 14-member audience at the August 13 meeting of the Centralia School Board. The meeting, held in the Centralia Intermediate School library, opened with a tax rate hearing, approving a new rate of 4.3595 per $100 assessed valuation, minus the vote of board
member Jason Hedrick who was absent.
Darin Ford, R-VI superintendent kicked off the rest of the meeting with his report. “We are really blessed with the relationship we have here with our community businesses,” he said, adding that CHS counselor Tanya Dimmitt did a very good job of presenting the board’s programs.
“Quarterly I would like to invite the board to extended lunch at each of the buildings. … A good experience watch the schools live and to see how things work in each of the buildings.”
Vanessa Ridgel, district accountant gave her monthly financial report. She said they were also preparing for their annual audit, which begins August 25. “This is the first board meeting of the fiscal year, most of the payables were paid by August . . . currently I funds one and two, we are sitting at 22 percent fund balance, as compared to 23 percent fund balance last year at this time.”
Shelly Vanskike gave the board a presentation on the district’s literacy plan, which Ford said she had previously given at a recent Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education conference.
Elementary school teacher Laura Warbritton called the new system a great experience, “It’s been a good “Within for our district, really good.”
Vanskike presented a video regarding the state-mandated dyslexia screenings. The video touched on the struggle a person with dyslexia faces when trying to read. “People have trouble not seeing words, but manipulating them . . . Time spend decoding causes them to fall behind colleagues… Dyslexia affects more than one in five people.” The video gave examples of people such as Richard Branson, Muhammed Ali and Cher as people who faced dyslexia and were still able to succeed.
“We’re going to be screening our students k-3, 100 percent of the students,” Vanskike said. “And this year for fourth and fifth grade we will be doing everyone.” She said there would be no diagnosis, just “noting of tendencies.” She said the districts would be sending letters to the parents to let them know what is going on.
“Any student that is low in a particular area, we will put together a literacy action plan,” she said. “We will include the parents in that.”
The intention is to help classroom teachers accommodate the condition and help students succeed, not to expand the special education classes, Vanskike said, explaining the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s intent for the program. She also said it was another unfunded mandate. “We are still working on some of those things, we are still trying to figure things out,” she said regarding the program and its future.
Board member Harvey Million asked If they had sufficient resources. Vanskike said they did and several of the changes had to do with actions such as allowing certain students extra time for tests.
Agreeing with a question from board member Erle Bennett, she said there would be two parts of the program, accommodation and remediation. It involved helping teacher make the connections when students displayed symptoms and employ the correct remediation.
“It will be nice to have all that information in one place,” Warbritton said.
Moving on to changes in board policies, Ford said they were dropping the amount parents could charge to student meals to $10. “It’s one of the tougher things we have to do.”
Ford also discussed the school visitors’ policy. He said the district’s policy did not say the same thing as the student handbook. They informally agreed to bring the handbook in line with the existing board policy regarding visitors.
Ford also discussed the facility committee recommendations. “It has given us some idea of what some of our patrons think.”
Two foundation issues, CIS and CBMS – continue monitoring them
Parking lot work – resealing the parking lots and trying to take care of them “It is extremely cost-prohibitive to get into re-asphalting all our parking lots, it goes into the million dollars.
During the discussion of the condition of sidewalk and parking-lot conditions, Angell warned that a trip and fall insurance claim could lead to a $200,000 to $600,000 payout and the district maintenance department needed to be aware of problematic conditions and get them repaired.
Water-sewer issues Lots of the lines are pretty old, monitor them.
Roofs – we may be having a lot of roofs replaced in the near future, Ford said. “We are waiting to see how many of our roofs may be replaced by the insurance company, it may be all of them… that could include a new roof for the former shop area of CBMS.”
Heating and air-conditioning – Temperature control issues at the high school and over-consumption at Centralia Intermediate School, but overall the HVAC systems in the school are in “pretty good shape,10 to 20 years out” he said.
Athletic facility upgrades, some bleacher work, but he said the recommendations would be small ones.
He also mentioned improvements recommended by the safety committee. “They are still kind of looking at the particulars, but better outdoor lights and camera systems will be addressed.”
“They think the primary focus should be on the high school, when and if we do something soon,” Ford said of the facility committee’s concerns.
He said that could indicate support for a no tax increase bond to retire the district’s lease purchase and do some general upgrades to the schools, “but primarily the high school.” Additionally, Ford said the distract had two lease-purchase payments left on the Ag. Building.
Ford gave some growth trends. The district is expecting 107 kindergarteners this year, along with an average class size of 113.4 for grades six through 12. For grades kindergarten through five, he said the average class sized should be 99.
From there they discussed the SMART program and moving it “from beneath the school’s umbrella.”
SMART program founder Lisa Matthiesen discussed moving the program into the former laundromat building on Railroad Street. She said it would simplify thing such as tutoring, away from noise sources such as athletic practices. Also, it would reduce the load on the district’s custodians. “We desperately need to continue this program,” Matthiesen said, adding it will be run by its own board. She reminded board members of the September 8 fundraising barbecue banquet being held for the SMART program at Nic-N-Noahs.
Ridgel said what the district needed to do at some point is release the funds it had been holding for the program, such as donations. In response to a question from Angell, she said none of the funds were tax monies.
They unanimously voted, to release donations held to the program, pending legal review.