Summer school, facilities and families financing college were on the agenda for the crowd of 15 that sat in the Centralia Intermediate School Library to listen to the September 10 meeting of the Centralia R-VI Board of Education.
Beck Balsamo reported on the 2018 summer school. He mentioned a larger incentive for perfect attendance – weekly drawings for students k-8, he said an average of 15 students qualified per week. He said overall enrollment was 671, average daily attendance was 91 percent. That he said was slightly higher than last year, which he said was 90 percent.
Board member Jed Angell wanted to know when the board could expect a profit and loss statement regarding summer school. “Does it cost us $1000 to hold summer school or do we make money?”
Superintendent Darin Ford said he would get that information. Balsamo said, in response to a question from Justin Romine, about offering more online classes during summer school.
Ford discussed the district’s $1.2 million hail damage claim on its roofs. He mentioned a consultant who suggested there is an additional potentially more feet of damaged roof, missed by the insurance company as well as moisture damage to the insulation. Ford said the consultant’s fee would be included in the claim. The board approved Ford’s request to continue talks with the consultant.
He also said the board would also have its first official board visit of a building Sept. 21 at Centralai High School. The visit will include monitoring classes and eating lunch.
“Its noticeable we’re down,” said CIS principal Jason Lea, during his building report. He said the school had 130 fifth grade students and 83 third grade students.
During Debbie Harper’s report on the Champion Academy, Angell asked “How many students actually need to be there? . . . Are we losing kids because of space or staff issues. . . I think we need to make sure we are not missing kids.”
Ford and Harpe assured him the situation was closeley monitored.
Matt Smith, CHS principal, said the last three years showed good EOC test results. He said the professional development and cell phone policies were both going well. He said the NHS initiation is October 26 and homecoming is October 5.
Vanessa Ridgel, district accountant, gave a brief fiscal update. She said they were at 23 percent in funds one and two, up from 22 percent last year. “We are looking good on our budget so far, revenues are over expenses.” She also said current revenues are above last years at this time. “We are in the positive by $39,000, whereas last year expenses exceeded revenues by $38,000.”
Board member Erle Bennett said he was concerned about utility costs at CIS, which he said were “four times higher than any other building.”
They also heard from Judy Baker, representing the Seed Success program. It is a nonprofit to help children and families build nest-eggs so students and their families might save enough money for post-secondary education, such as trade-school, tech-school, or college. “We always want to encourage folks to plan for their future.” She said with the right grants the organization will be able to help each kindergarten student start a 529 college savings account with $50. If it works, it could lead to students having accounts with at least $3,000 to $5,000 when they graduate from high school. Seed, she said would raise money to match the funds. “We want to encourage lower-income folks to save.”
“This is socialism, I’m not interested,” Angell said. “What’s to prevent a parent or household from walking down to Central bank and starting their own 529 tomorrow?”
“Education and motivation,” Baker said. “We’re trying to educate people on how to save and budget…”
Board member Harvey Million asked what the program needs from the district. She said it would involve one person in the building housing their kindergarten being trained to be an information source, as well as the district willing to provide the sign-up forms.
If the student does not finish, the funds are redistributed to the Centralia program, she said.
“Why use faculty and administrative time for something that is already out there,” asked Million, referring to the personal finance classes he said were already offered by the district. Backer said, because “we are failing at it,” referring to society as a whole. She said the organization contributes a 50 percent match.
“We’re going out with our hands out again,” said Justin Romine expressing a concern about more fundraisers in a community that is already targeted by many school fundraisers.
Million and board member Bobbie Tetley asked if they could reexamine the program next year when SEED has more data to show. “Absolutely,” Baker said. “We will be around.”
Lots of time when you help people, you are not helping,” Angell said, trying explain his concern. “I want to know in 12 years how the money is going to pay for tuitions or books, not meth.” Baker said the checks would only be made to educational institutions. “That is a safeguard I am certainly glad to hear,” Angell said.
The board, minus Jason Hedrick who was absent, voted to table the discussion until next month.
From there Ford brought up the results of the facility improvement committee. The result of their deliberations, he said, was “focus on what we have.”
Bennett said, for the moment, that means focusing on the high school as much as possible, though, he and Ford agreed, if there was a building built within the next 10 years, it would be a middle school.
Ford said he thought $2 million would get “the top 10 done.”
Bennett said paying off the CIS lease-purchase would free $180,000 a year. “There’s a significant amount of work to be done.”
“The truth is our expenses our outpacing our revenues,” For said. “New revenue sources will have to be found, in order, to just do these things.” Other things such as the competition for the best teachers, also needed to be considered, as well as the cost of replacing technology.”
Rusty Dutton said the list needed to be prioritized. Ford said the committee’s intent was for the board to do that.
Bennett gave the example of the CHS HVAC, “We have classrooms at 60 degrees and the library at 80. Children cannot learn at 60 degrees. We can’t be waiting till next years for some of this. Mr. Ford has to get some things done now.”
From there they discussed transportation. Ford distributed a document showing district costs had risen by almost $100,000 over the last five years. He said there is still an issue finding enough drivers.