It was a crowded house Monday night at the March 11 meeting of the Centralia R-VI School Board.
Board President Justin Romine read a statement kicking off the meeting by announcing the hiring of Steven Chancellor Ph.D. as the new school superintendent.
He said Chancellor would be visiting the district again March 22 to begin the getting acquainted process. Editor’s note, please see the related article in the March 13 issue of the Centralia Fireside Guard.
From there Beck Balsamo updated everything on changes to the R-VI summer school program. One big change, he said is students would no longer be able to choose all the classes they wanted. In a letter to district parents he wrote, “One change we have made this year is that students entering grades 3-8 will no longer pick which classes they take in the afternoons. Now students will be assigned their schedule based on grade level. We have taken many of the students’ favorite classes from the past and mixed them with some
Exciting newly developed classes to create the ultimate learning experience.”
The curriculum and process has changed, Balsamo said.
Additionally, he said Macey Watermann would be working with him to increase the breadth of technology-related summer school offerings. At the high school he said, the would still offer health and PE, along with a “virtual academy,” of online classes, as well as credit recovery. On paper our registration deadline is May 1,” he said, but indicated there was some flexibility
Board member Erle Bennett asked how much credit recovery classes cost the district. Centralia High School Principal Matt Smith said the cost was “around $50 a seat.”
Bennett also asked if the district accepted online credit from other schools.
Vanessa Ridgel, district accountant presented the monthly financial report. Ridgel said the district’s beginning balance was $5,226,152, with $10,892,498 in revenues and
$9,079,795 in expenditures. Ridgel said the ending balance was $7,038,855.
She said the district had a 37 percent fund balance. Tax collections compared to last year, in response to a question from Board Member Erle Bennett, are very close to last year. The district also has $430,000 in capital projects – Fund IV, she said, almost $100,000 more than last year.
Discussing the upcoming budget, Ford said he had received more than $100,000-worth of capital improvement requests from the building principals. He said there would be a list for discussion at the April meeting. “We want to get another month of data in,” Ford said. “It will be up to the board what to do.” Otherwise, he said the “budget is tracking really well.” Ridgel also said revenues were higher than expenses, until debt service payments are included.
Central Bank, HomeBank and US Bank all bid for the contract to be the district’s depository. Ridgel said Central Bank’s interest rate “was a bit higher,” and supplies were sold to the district at cost. “However even with fees waived and supplies for free we estimated it would cost about $6,000 a year if we went with Home Bank.” The vote for Central was unanimously in favor minus Romine, who abstained because he is on the Central Bank advisory board and Bobbie Tetley, who was absent.
“We might really struggle to bus those kids to golf practice every day,” Ford said regarding transporting the CHS golf team to golf practice at Arthur Hills, on Mexico’s west side, and his prior recommendation to not allow students to transport themselves there for practice. “The need for bus transport is about to really blow up and we already have a shortage of drivers. Under a perfect world, I would prefer to drive them, but given circumstances we may have to explore the option.” He said the golf coaches would be using the school’s Suburban to haul those who cannot get a ride with other students.
Speaking from the audience, one of CHS’ golf coaches, Brandon Kinkead, said there were 21 students on the team.
The board indicated it preferred to transport the students, despite Ridgel saying the district did not have a consistently available bus driver.
CBMS Principal Nathan Gordon suggested asking if there were teachers available, qualified and interested in driving when regular bus drivers are not available. Ford said they would also explore the possibility of a waiver for those parents who would prefer their children transport themselves.
Ford said the three-year board office lease from Home Bank will expire June 1. Board members asked if Ford could get a shorter lease. They agreed to table the discussion until May.
They also discussed posting board packets on the district web site for public access, with one board member expressing concern the packets contained information he did not think should be shared with the public, board members agreed to table that until after the board reconfiguration in April