A scant audience of four attended the September 13 meeting of the Centralia R-VI School Board.
Among other things, district repair needs and substitute teachers were on the agenda.
Six of the seven members of the board were there in person for the discussion.
Shannon Dawson attended via the Internet.
“We are about a million dollars ahead of where we were last year,” R-VI Super Steven Chancellor said, but he cautioned the number would fluctuate as early school year bills landed.
Discussing payables, he said three days in early August, when the heat index was above 105-degrees, the district had a HVAC unit fail beyond repair. It has not yet been replaced, because the district is encountering difficulties finding a “curb adapter,” which is needed to connect the unit to the system.
He also mentioned a contract registered nurse, which the district is obliged to hire to provide daily care to a special needs child while the youth is at school.
“We will be eligible for reimbursement for approximately 2/3 of the cost at the end of the year,” Chancellor said, answering a question from Board Member Nathan Chitwood.
Board member Harvey Million asked what the district had been doing in the meantime, Chancellor said the child would not attend school until the nurse was available.
“Only 71 percent of the open positions, are best day, on our worst, zero,” Chancellor said, describing the success, or lack of success the district has had this year so far getting substitute teachers when needed.
He said the district gets most its substitute teachers from Kelly Services and he is concerned it may be a state-wide problem. Nevertheless, “we are paying for a service we are not getting,” he said when Chitwood asked about the premium the district pays to the agency for supplying substitutes.
Starting January 1, he said, the state of Missouri has lowered the college hours required to be a substitute, down to 20 hours. He said each building principal is reaching out to recently retired staff. “This problem is not a Centralia problem, it is an every district problem.”
He said the district is facing the same problem with school bus drivers. Regarding extracurricular activities he said he considering sending a letter to parents notifying them there may be events will they will have to drive their own children to them. He said the application process for bus driving could “become more rigid after January 1.” A chauffer’s license is no longer enough, he said, a potential driver must pass a test that is called a “school endorsement,” which he said is more technically focused on the actual school bus.
Board member Rusty Dutton asked what the district is doing to retain drivers. “It sounds like if we lose the ones we have we will be in trouble.”
Chancellor said next month could be difficult for health reasons, that day, he had to quarantine 18 students in the high school and the R-VI pre-school would not be opened until Wednesday. He said he was more concerned with the adults, “the children are not something we have not seen before.”
They approved a nursing supervision contract with Phoenix Home Care & Hospice
They also approved the defeasance a $500,000 portion of the district’s outstanding general obligation bonds and connected action. “What we are doing, “ Chancellor said, “we will prepay on interest and a little bit of principal and that will reset that accumulation of Fund Three money.” He said “they were paying down, to borrow again in a few months.” He said it could safe the district $100,000, or create $600,000 in bond capacity.
In other financial business – Chancellor presented the monthly financials. They showed a 23 percent fund balance when calculating from funds 1 and 2, and a 32 percent fund balance when calculating from funds 1, 2 and 3. The report also showed $1,278,737in revenue for August and $838,222 in expenditures.
They segued to a discussion about their proposed no-tax-increase bond issue and what it would fund.
Among them: Replacing the original water pipes inside Centralia Elementary School, including water lines to bathrooms and the boilers
- Replacing residential air conditioning units on the roof of the elementary school
- Making the CES playgrounds more accessible to special needs students
At CBMS, home heating units, installed in 1983 heat the eighth-grade wing of CBMS
At CHS, “high school is where we have the most issues,” he said. “a lot of toilet’s leaking,” he said all the bathroom equipment was original equipment.
- The bathrooms across from the concession stand are not ADA accessible
- Lots of water “pond up” against the buildings “we’re in some dire need of some dirt-work to direct water away from our buildings.”
- The science labs, – “Mrs. Schmidt is doing a great job, but it is getting harder and harder for her to use that lab to prepare our students for college science classes.” Chancellor said.
- The majority of non-classroom windows now have air gaps, he said.
- Sooner or later we will have to address our seating in the gymnasium. He also questioned the safety of the mezzanine seating. Chancellor also mentioned gymnasium air conditioning. He also said the building’s thermostats were outdated and inefficient.
Chancellor said, CES’ pipes were possibly the highest priority due to failure requiring the school to be temporarily closed. He also said the list is not complete. “Another science classroom, another gym, another special education room… And we also need to address how long Chester Boren Middle School will still be viable,” he said regarding other needs.
“Bring a plan as quick as you can,” Chitwood said regarding CES.
Million said Chancellor was on the right track.