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Verona school board to pursue creating new position

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Verona R-7 Board of Education approved pursuing the creation of a new position to handle core data for the district during its September board meeting.

According to board secretary Kristy Madewell, monthly reports to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) have grown greatly in recent years. Core data involves all the information used in the state's Annual Performance Review (APR) and the Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) reports.

Submission of core data has been handled mostly by the counselor, Madewell said. Those responsible for specific areas within the school, such as English language learners or special education, have submitted their own data separately. This spring, one person's submission wiped out another's file, forcing the recreation of a detailed report. Madewell said one person handling all the data submissions would eliminate such problems.

The proposal passed 5-1. Donnie Craft, Dale Whitlock, David Doner, Louis Carrasquillo and Mary Hesemann voted in favor of the measure, with Gary Wolf casting the dissenting vote.

Financial issues

The board approved its tax levy for the year at the same overall rate of $3.95 per $100 of assessed property. The general fund was reduced from $3.12 to $3, while the debt service was increased from $.83 to $.95.

"The projected debt service revenue from the increased levy is about $228,000 for FY 2012," said Superintendent Bill Sweet. "Last year, debt service projected revenue was $170,994 or about $57,000 less. The increased debt service revenue will help meet our financial obligations, considering the lower than expected interest earnings."

The reduction in general fund revenue comes when reserves increased over the previous year by 3.55 percent, for a total of 41.29 percent. The reserve total was calculated by auditors who conducted their annual review Aug. 10 through Aug. 12.

Madewell said previous superintendent Robert Abeln left the district in a very positive financial position. The addition of the high school, parking lot, updated air conditioning and rebuilding the business classroom after its collapse in February due to snow represented a significant investment. Madewell said maintaining a reserve balance of over 41 percent was very positive, even after giving step and horizontal pay raises to certified staff and raises each year to non-certified staff.

Board members voted to refinance the 2007 Series bonds used for constructing the new high school at a locked-in interest rate ranging from .55 to 3.55 percent. The bonds were originally financed at 3.9 percent.

Bonds totaling $2,450,000 were refinanced through L.J. Hart and Company. Significant portions of the refunding bonds were purchased by UMB Bank for the benefit of its branch in Monett, and by the Empire Bank of Springfield. The new bonds have a 10-year duration and have a feature allowing repurchase of the bonds for redemption or refinancing after five years at no penalty.

Refinancing will save the district $249,853 in interest over the duration of the bonds, Sweet said.

Building project

Board members reviewed progress on rebuilding the high school business classroom with architect Richard Werner. The project was about two weeks behind schedule, Werner said, due in part to steel suppliers not having their product available or the matching veneer block the locker room addition.

Administrative action

Board members approved bus routes for the year, which remained the same as last year.

The Secretary of the Board's annual report to DESE was approved.

In his general report, Sweet said first day attendance numbers were up from last year. Bob Sullo, a motivational speaker, would present a program to the faculty on improving teaching practices and bullying prevention.

High school Principal Terry Winton reported securing school supplies and snack foods for students in Carthage. Students were enrolled in two ITV classes for the fall semester. Ginger Velasco, who came to the district from working at a Catholic school in Texas, was transitioning well into her new position.

Winton said he and secondary teachers were working to identify instructional strategies to raise student achievement. He was also researching programs that do benchmark testing for implementation.

The board will next meet on Oct. 20.

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