A constrained budget for the coming school year and a revised health insurance strategy were part of the efforts discussed at the June board meeting of the Purdy R-2 Board of Education for dealing with tighter economic conditions.
The board passed a preliminary budget for the 2009-10 school year that had a positive balance of $60,275 in all funds.
"That's not much left in a budget of over $6 million," said Superintendent Jerry Lingo. "We've removed all the fluff. We're down to brass tacks. I think this is pretty close to the budget I'll present in August."
In his budget message to the board, Lingo noted enrollment at the Purdy district has declined in the past two years, "making it even more mandatory that we strive to hold our spending to an adequate, but cautious level."
Lingo cautioned that while assessed valuation for property taxes has remained steady, the continued ability of patrons to pay their taxes becomes increasingly uncertain.
Having adopted the budget, the board went into closed session and adopted a salary schedule that amounted to almost $30,000 in additional spending. A step increase to credit another year of service was added. Administrators each received a $500 raise. Office staff, building secretaries, cooks, teachers' aides and the nurse each got a $250 raise. Custodians received a 15-cent-an-hour increase.
Health insurance strategy
The district took a cautious approach to health insurance for the coming year. Facing a track record of getting $1.20 back for every $1 paid into the coverage, the district did not qualify to get into a group of districts where payments and premiums were fairly equal. Cost to the district in a group would be less.
Lingo went to a different insurance broker, Jenkins and Associates instead of Forrest T. Jones, Shopping for the district independently instead of as a group, Jenkins found a deal that used the same Blue Cross policy with Cox doctors at basically the same price. The difference is in using a third party administrator, compared to what had been used in the past year.
The result was a lower monthly premium for certified staff, which Lingo called a raise for teachers. Board members liked the option and adopted the plan.
If the district's ratio of premiums to claims improves, Lingo was optimistic the district could get in with a group of districts in the following year.
In other business, the board voted to rehire Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act Specialist Asbestos Management Firm from Aurora for another three years. Lingo said the firm has been under contract for 21 years, provides inspections every six months, checks on new buildings and inquires about environmental issues that may not otherwise be obvious.
Stacey Williams was appointed board secretary and payroll clerk for the coming year. Marsha Williams was appointed secretary to the superintendent and district treasurer.
The board authorized moving up to 7 percent of funds into the building fund to close the current year, depending on how much money was available to move. Lingo said the move is the district's one opportunity in the year to build up its reserve for future capital projects. The annual audit will be done July 28 through July 30, at which time the district's financial picture will become clearer.
In administrative reports, Lingo told board members the north wall of the high school gym has finally been sealed by crews from Varsity. After the sealant cured for six weeks, the top row of bleachers would be taken out and the wall scraped to look for additional peeling from extra moisture that has been leaching through the concrete blocks.
Jeff Swadley, elementary principal and summer school director, reported 57 percent of the district's students enrolled in summer school, and after the first week, 49 percent of all students were attending. Swadley was pleased with the level of participation, noting that each student in attendance boosts the district's eligible pupil count and helps the average daily attendance figures submitted to the state.
Janet Boys, middle school principal, provided the board with the names of 12 students in the A+ program who were helping tutor younger students in summer school.
"The teachers have been begging them to stay, they've been such a big help," Boys said.
Swadley gave the board a chart showing how students in the vision intervention tutoring program [VIP] had made gains in their reading skills through the year. Reading coaches, teachers and aides contributed to the success, Swadley said. It will take three years of data to provide a clearer picture of how the special tutoring is helping.
"We believe VIP played an absolute role in achieving [these results]," Swadley said.
Bob Vice, high school principal, reported on results from the Missouri Options program in its first year. Two students recovered enough credits to graduate. Two opted to go back into regular classes. Another did not finish this year and will resume work in the fall. Four other students moved or ran away, leaving no record.
The Pathways to Success program enabled 23 students to recover 23 credits up to the end of the school year. Vice said the program kept students from falling behind or going out-of-district in the summer to recover credits in other programs.
"The program has been successful in keeping students on par with their peers," Vice said.
A breakdown on future activities by graduating seniors showed almost 70 percent were going on to post-secondary schooling. The total was comparable to results Purdy usually has. Total scholarships awarded this year added up to $142,850.
Average daily attendance figures for the year tallied up to 96.8 percent at the elementary campus, 95.5 percent at the middle school and 93.8 at the high school.