School board to become more involved in budget process

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

School board

to be more involved in budget process


McCook Daily Gazette

Using a new process, every member of McCook public schools' board of education will participate in the creation of the district's budget each year.

Board finance committee member Tom Bredvick told fellow board members, ad-ministrators, teachers and the public at a regular board meeting Monday evening, "We're making a transition from reactive approval to pro-active design."

In the past, administration, the business office and a three-member board committee created the budget, and the full board reviewed and approved it.

Repeating concerns she voiced at earlier meetings when the board approved the 2005-06 budget, board member Diane Lyons said, "It's inconceivable that we would vote on a budget when only half of us know what's in it. It's hard to comprehend that it's been done that way in the past."

That's the situation that board finance committee members are trying to ad-dress with a new budget process that will begin with budget discussions and strategy and planning meetings for board members in February 2006.

According to a budget calendar that will be created in March 2006 by the superintendent and business manager, budget work sessions for the board will begin in June 2006. The final budget must be approved in September 2006.

The calendar also includes dates by which activities that affect the school's budget happen: the Nebraska De-partment of Education ac-cepts, enters and approves state aid figures; McCook Education Association labor negotiations; and reports of the district's valuation determined by the Red Willow County assessor's office.

Bredvick said the new process will insure the transfer of information from administration, the business office and the board's finance committee to the full board and the public.

Finance committee member and board president Greg Larson said, "Our goal is to never leave anyone out."

Fellow board member Jim Coady asked that board members receive each month "reports of historical expenditures," which will indicate funds disbursed in the past two years, funds disbursed year-to-date last year, the latest published budget and funds disbursed year-to-date.

Bredvick said those reports will "track where we've been, what's budgeted and we're we're going."

Coady also asked for a report each month on necessary cash on hand.

Board secretary Mike Gonzales said the new process will allow education to drive the budget, not the other way around. Fellow board member Ron Soden said the new process is "headed in the right direction," but warned that, "We can make our best guesses, but we'll always get a curve thrown at us from the state."

In other action:

* Superintendent Dr. Don Marchant said he will further investigate traffic flow problems and congestion at the new school. Parent Andy Hoffman suggested, during the public forum segment of the meeting, that the school bus children from McCook Elementary to designated drop-off points -- such as the former West Ward and East Ward buildings -- throughout the community. McCook Elementary Principal Kathy Latta said that most of the new building's kitchen equipment has arrived, and the full-preparation kitchen will be operating after it is all installed.

Latta expressed her appreciation for time, labor and equipment donated to move classrooms and playground equipment from East Ward to McCook Elementary.

Safety committee member and Principal Dennis Berry said that he expects a written report on an external safety inspection yet this week. Berry said many of the district's safety issues have been addressed with the new elementary building.

Special education students from the school facility on North Highway 83 will be moved to the new elementary building after the modular classrooms are removed, concrete work is completed and traffic congestion problems are ironed out, possibly at the end of this school year, according to Special Education Director Bob Saf.

* Teacher-coach Charles Coleman asked that board members not purchase route buses to be used for over-the-road activities. Coleman cited problems with ventilation and heating, and pointed out that "long-legged kids" don't fit comfortably between the straight-back seats and don't have enough room to relax and stretch out. Even as old as the coach busses are and were, Coleman said, they are desirable to route busses on long trips.

Board president Greg Larson said board members haven't made any decisions about what type of bus to purchase, and will investigate options while in Omaha this week for a state convention for school board members.

* Board members agreed not to contribute the yearly $10,000 contribution to the REWARD grant-writing committee, which has $53,000 available in its fund.

* Board members accepted an anonymous donation of $762 for pole vault safety equipment and a $1,000 donation from Wal-Mart to be applied to construction costs at the new concession stand-locker room at Weiland Field.

* MHS sophomore Anthony Bieck told board members that McCook High School's Student Council recently received a "Make-A-Wish" plaque and an "Outstanding Student Council" award during the StuCo state convention. Bieck was also elected District 2 president.

* Board member Diane Lyons reported that 40 girls played in the new intramural basketball league at the junior high this fall. Lyons said that there were some problems with gym scheduling, but the gym at the new elementary school will be available next year and will help alleviate some of the problems.

Boys basketball, volleyball and football will be played in the spring.

Lyons said students have responded well to new clubs available at the junior high.

* Cathy Jones, senior high teacher and a member of the district's Curriculum Coordinating Council, told board members that CCC members are working on reading improvement programs and have sent letters to preschool teachers in McCook, hoping to coordinate their teaching with the public schools' learning standards.

* Board member Mike Gonzales suggested donating to the new "Christmas Outreach 2005" program at the Nebraska Department of Corrections Work Ethic Camp in McCook, in which Christmas presents will be given to the children of offenders. Toys and gifts will be provided by the McCook Toy Box; postage will be paid with donations to the project. The board will discuss a donation during its December meeting.

* Board President Greg Larson suggested meeting with facilitatory Burma Kroger again to develop goals for 2006. A workshop was tentatively set for Jan. 30 at 6 p.m.

* Larson was elected the delegate assembly representative for the state school boards convention this week in Omaha, which several members plan to attend. Dr. Marchant said he recently attended a technology and learning seminar and a meeting on high-ability learners.

* Business manager Peggy Ruppert said the 2004-2005 audit report has been completed, and is available for inspection at her office in the high school.

* Lyons congratulated the MHS football team for qualifying for state Class B playoffs in Lincoln and the MHS newspaper staff for winning a "Cornhusker Award" at the Nebraska High School Press Association state convention in October. She also congratulated the high school's volleyball team for a successful season, missing qualifying for state Class B playoffs by one game.

* The board went into a closed session at 8:05 p.m. to discuss personnel.

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