|School Board holds special meeting, works to tighten budget|
|Written by Wauneta Breeze|
|Thursday, 28 February 2013 20:04|
By Sheri Hink-Wagner
The Wauneta Breeze
The Wauenta-Palisade Public Schools Board held a special meeting Monday night, Feb. 25. The purpose of the meeting was a continuation of topics from their work session held in late January.
The lion’s share of conversation at Monday’s meeting centered around ways to tighten the school’s budget for the upcoming year.
The school district will receive $26,000 in state aid for the 2013-2014 school year, down slightly from state aid received for the current school year, but down significantly–over $600,000–from the 2010-2011 school year.
Wauneta-Palisade Superintendent Randy Geier told the board, “Six years ago we could pay three months of expenses with state aid, now we can pay approximately one tenth of one month’s expenses.”
The fact that the school will receive less state aid, combined with increasing costs throughout school operations, spurred the board to have an in-depth discussion of ways to tighten the school’s budget.
Throughout the discussion, school board members maintained a positive outlook on the budget situation the school is facing. Board President Jon Anderjaska said, “As board members, we want to be part of the solution.”
In their efforts to ascertain where the budget could be tightened, the board looked at class census and distribution amongst teachers as well as other duties being performed by teachers and staff.
The overriding sentiment expressed by school board members and staff was a desire to assure that staff time was being utilized in the most efficient ways possible.
When discussing class offerings at W-P staff and board members indicated they needed to do what’s best for all students and that the plan needs to balance offerings for students with a financial tightening of the belt.
Wauneta-Palisade Schools currently employs just over 60 employees (full time and part time) and has 211 students.
Board members also discussed ways to make the school bus routes more efficient to alleviate unneeded expenses. Superintendent Geier was directed to request a route map from Kenny Lawless, transportation director, prior to the regular March meeting.
Other possible ways of lowering the budget mentioned at the meeting was a change in the school schedule, down to four days per week. Board members held doubts the four-day school week would save significant money for the district, but wanted to reinvestigate the issue as part of their overall budget review.
Board members also looked at ways to streamline the school lunch and breakfast offerings. Discussion included possible brown-bagged breakfasts and utilizing one school cafeteria and transporting food instead of maintaining two cafeterias.
Board Secretary Allison Sandman summed up the feeling in the room when she said, “We really need to think outside the box.”
School board members decided to activate some of their standing committees as well as some ad hoc committees to research various possibilities to lower the school’s budget.
Committees will research potential changes to the class schedule and class offerings, ways to cut transportation costs, ways to cut school lunch costs, and possible four-day school weeks.
The various committees will report back to the board at the March school board meeting. The board hopes to make decisions on how to tighten the budget at the March 11 meeting.
Enrollment increase and other items discussed
Superintendent Geier informed the board of six new students gracing the hallways of W-P schools as of last week. With the addition W-P’s total enrollment is up to 211 students, 29 of whom are pre-kindergarten students.
The board approved a scheduling change for the Wauneta Attendance Center at Monday’s meeting. W-P will be hosting district speech competitions on Thursday, March 14. Therefore, there will be no classes in Wauneta that day. Classes will still be held in Palisade on March 14.
There was no new information shared regarding the possible athletic co-op with Hayes Center Schools. Geier informed the board that the Hayes Center Schools Board was meeting on March 2 and that he may attend the meeting to answer questions regarding the possible athletic co-op.
The next regular meeting of the Wauneta-Palisade Public Schools Board will be Monday, March 11. The public is welcome to attend school board meetings.