During its June 9 regular meeting, the El Dorado Springs R-II School Board discussed the possibility of putting a bond issue on the November ballot. They want to get a list of needs from the staff and have a public meeting.
The board set its final meeting of the fiscal year for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 23.
During the meeting, the board approved adding $1,000 to the salary schedule for the certified staff and a 5% increase for the classified salary schedule.
Four board members, the bare minimum for a quorum, were present for the meeting – Chad Whitesell, Allen Hoover, Greg Beydler and Darrell Eason – presiding. Absent were Bennie Brower, Scott Cluck and Josh Floyd.
In closed session, the board accepted the resignation of Josh Smith – Middle School History and Track, David Luxton – Band and Alfred Trautweiler – High School Science. The board hired Jordan White – Band, Bill Holland – Special Ed and Spencer Greathouse – High School Math.
In discussion about the raises, Supt. Mark Koca told the board, “A 21⁄2% raise on the certified side would be $750. At that rate, I have just about a balanced budget.”
“If you wanted to go to a 3.3% raise, it would be about $900, so that would put our base at $30,900. At that rate, I’d be about $25,000 in the negative as far as the budget goes.”
“If you wanted to try to get it all the way to thirty one… we’d be about $35,000 in the hole. I think any of that is do-able. As I’ve discussed with you guys a couple of times, I was looking this year to try to do a little bit more on the classified salaries than I did on the certified salaries because the percentage raises they are getting “behinder” every year, if you want to call it that. All those figures include a 5% raise on the classified side. So you’ve got a little flexibility this year which we haven’t had in the last couple of years. A lot of that is due to some retirees and just a slightly better economic condition than we’ve been in for a while. Any of those things are do-able, it just depends on how tight you want to try to figure it. I’d definitely recommend that we do at least 21⁄2% which would put our base at $30,750.”
Beydler asked if there were some unknown expenses on outfitting the pre-school. Supt. Koca said those are unknown but, “I think I’ve put enough in the budget to cover it.” He said he has $47,000 set aside to equip the building. He said they aren’t going to have to buy a lot because they will move things from the existing rooms. The things they will have to buy are daycare related such as cots, a refrigerator, microwave and a food warmer.
Hoover said, “Personally, I’d like to see it go to thirty one, just simply because I don’t know how many people we’ve lost this year we’ve lost because of money…?
Supt. Koca said, “I’d like to grandstand here for a moment. We have had several applicants that have turned us down based on money because there is a better offer out there somewhere. That has happened to us a bunch of times in the last two years. And, worse yet, I’ve had four or five really good applicants for various positions turn us down on account of facilities. How many choir people did you interview last year that looked at the room and said, ‘I don’t think so.’? ”
High School Principal David Hedrick said, “Three that I know of.”
Koca said, “Those are both issues with the hiring process. We are out in the middle of nowhere. We are an hour and a half from everything. It’s easier to hire teachers in Humansville than it is here because they can drive from Bolivar very easily. That’s a tough commute from Bolivar to here.”
“We are never going to catch up to our neighbors in terms of salary. If we jump a thousand, they go up a thousand.”
Hoover said, “But if we don’t jump, we are just further behind.”
Supt. Koca said, “What I usually hear from the teachers that leave us and go to Nevada, they say, ‘I’m going to get $5,000 or $6,000 more than I was getting here.’ We can’t come up with that.”
Eason said, “But when we have the opportunity to do it, we need to do it. I’ve been here a long time and there were years we couldn’t do anything. And we can do it this year. I agree with Allen. I think we ought to do it.”
Hoover said, “Thirty one sounds a lot better than $30,900 or $30,750 for not that much money,”
Supt. Koca said it is a relatively small amount of money in a $12 million budget, “all things considered.”
The board voted 4-0 to approve the $1,000 raise to certified and 5% for classified.
Supt. Koca said, “We’ll make it work.”
The superintendent reported to the board on storm damage to the under construction Early Childhood Center.
Supt. Koca said that the school’s Builder’s Risk Insurance and Westport’s insurance would handle it “exterior to us. We’ll just let them settle it.”
He said that they should see some sheeting go up soon and the bricklayers should be here before long. “It’s going OK.”
He said, “The amazing thing – there are probably 25 or 30 pipe stubs sticking up out of the concrete for plumbing fixtures. The storm did not break a single pipe stub which is almost like Divine Intervention.”
The board opened bids for repair of the Park Street entrance on the bus ramp. The board voted to accept the low bid from Dane Perry for $6,388.
The board took up discussion of a possible bond issue for November. Supt. Koca said, “We’ve kinda been looking at the possibility of running the bond issue again in the November general election. If we do that, we must have the ballot language ready to go by Aug. 23. That gives us 2 1/2 months to consider, but I need some direction. Maybe that direction needs to consist of holding some public meetings again. I’d like to hear your thoughts and where you think we ought to go with it. Personally, I don’t think that running the existing project again is probably worth our time. We can look at our priorities list and try to cherry pick three or four things off the top of it. That would be a way to go about it. It doesn’t solve all of our problems but it is a step in the right direction.”
Hoover said, “There are some things we just need very badly – that elevator and some other things. I think running it all together like we’ve been doing is not going to happen.”
Beydler said, “We’ve done it several times and really there hasn’t been any improvement on it. I think if we go back with the same thing you are going to get the same results. We need to get off this pedestal and move forward because we aren’t moving anywhere. I think just doing one or two things at a time is not the best way of doing it, but that’s better than not doing anything.”
Supt. Koca said the elevator is of utmost importance. He said his biggest facility problem is the vocal music room as just not appropriate space for the activity inside. He said they are pushing in-school suspension out to the bus barn next year to just free up some space.
The superintendent said, “We’ve talked about that Middle School gym a number of times. I know people don’t like to hear it. But it’s not just an athletic thing. It’s an educational space and I would invite anybody up here doing regular school time to watch what goes on in that gym when they can’t be outdoors. It’s 80 to 90 kids in that space all trying to be supervised at once and it just does not work. A lot of people don’t feel like they can support that because it’s used for athletics as well.”
He said, “Those are the big ones. Personally, I’ve got kind of a soft spot for the science labs. I graduated in ’81. We’ve got pictures from 1972 of that science lab and it hasn’t changed enough that you can tell the pictures apart except the kids in ‘72 had longer hair. It hasn’t changed and it’s time. Maybe if we had better, more up-to-date modern equipment, we might have been able to hang onto a teacher this year. I don’t know that, but it certainly could have been a factor. I think most of it was just salary.”
“So how do we decide what to put on there? Do you think a community forum is the best way to attack that?”
“From a total project standpoint what’s a number that we feel good about? Is that number $5 million? Is it $3 million? We started out at seven. That project is probably over 10 now. None of those things worked.”
Hoover said, “I think people look at the levy and how much that will go up.”
The board and superintendent agreed that they did not need the expense of an architect. The superintendent said, “Personally, I think we’ve beat that horse to death.” He said, “I think we are smart enough at this point and have been down this road enough – we can figure out how many feet we need and about what that is going to cost.”
Beydler said, “I think we need to look at our priorities and pick our priorities out and then build around that.”
Beydler said, “If they see that we are just trying to do bits and pieces at a time and hold the cost way down, they might be more acceptable to it.”
Supt. Koca said, “The one thing I want everybody to understand is: just because we have backed off on the size and scope of the project, does not mean those needs have gone away. We haven’t been standing up here blowing smoke at people.”
Beydler said, “It’s better to take a couple of steps than not move at all.”
Supt. Koca said, “And I think that is where we are at right now.”
Beydler said, “I’d like to see a preliminary list from your people (teachers). They are in a position to know the deficits that we need to correct. If we can get a list from that, then go to the community and get their input, then maybe we can come up with something.”
The board asked the superintendent to get a list of needs from the teachers to look at during the June 23 meeting.