By Janet Huffman Herald Correspondent
The Clinton Herald
---- — DEWITT — The Central Community School Board last week approved the 2012-2013 audit prepared by Nolte, Cornman & Johnson P.C. of Newton. Business Director Tina Bartels said it was a very good audit.
The general fund revenues decreased to $14,873,888 in fiscal year 2013 while expenditures increased to $14,519,182. With revenues still ahead of expenses, the general fund balance increased from $700,476 in 2012 to $1,055,182. The audit stated the revenue increase came from local sources and the slight increase in expenses was primarily the result of higher salaries and benefits. The solvency ratio, which is an indication of the district’s capacity to pay its bills, increased from 3.69 percent to 6.72 percent.
The board set April 9 at 6 p.m. for public hearings to amend the current budget and to approve the 2014-2015 budget. The amended budget shows actual expenses for 2013-14, and increases will be paid from increased receipts and balances not previously considered in the budget.
Superintendent Dan Peterson said the 2014-2015 budget has no cuts, and there is a slightly reduced tax rate of $15.07232 (previously 15.376) per $1,000 property taxable valuation. It lists $25,082,215 in required expenditures.
The board discussed at length the request for a Club Hope trip to Ecuador in 2015. Language arts teacher Hannah Totten has mentored the group with the help of Maquoketa School District teacher, Mindy Orris. Totten said that six students are dedicated to going as part of a youth-action group. The program works with the organization, Free the Children. The trip would provide a “global outlook” for the students, Totten said, and Orris added, “Safety is the No. 1 priority of this organization.”
The board asked for more documentation for the trip. Board member Jim Irwin said he was not ready to make the decision and asked for more research. Board member Steve Fulgsang said a discussion with the Maquoketa administration would be needed. Board member Angela Rheingans also said more information was needed because the group was going to a foreign country and it was the board’s responsibility to make an informed decision.
Board president Cristy Kunz asked where the money for the trip comes from and if insurance was provided. Orris listed costs for the time spent in Ecuador as well as plane ticket costs, passports and shots costs. She said insurance was required. A deposit of $250 is needed by April 30. The decision will be on the April 9 board agenda.
The Iowa assessment results for grades 9-11 were presented by Moly Giese, filling in for Principal George Pickup who could not attend. Giese said there was across-the-board growth in all categories in 111th grade and the report was positive.
In ninth grade, she cited a 19 percent growth in reading, 16 percent in math, and 12 percent in science. In 10th grade, only science showed a slight decrease. When asked why the improvement, Giese said there were many reasons, but the prime reason was the “culture of accountability” emphasized by Pickup.
The board approved purchase of two new school buses at a total cost of $167,988. Low bidder is Hoglund Bus Company of Marshalltown. Purchased are a 65-passenger bus at $79,999 and a 53-passenger lift bus at $87,989.
Operations Director Keith Walker’s request to seek bids for several projects was approved. Projects are the Ekstrand Elementary and high school boiler replacements, the expected $57,000 lighting project at Ekstrand and asphalt/concrete at the bus garage. Walker said there was 8,200 square yards for repair/replacement and the project cost is estimated at $250,000 to $260,000. Asphalt would be about two-thirds the cost of concrete but requires more and quicker repairs. Walker recommended concrete.
The board approved hiring Brianne Beuter as high school speech contest coach at .05 on the stipend schedule, increased the contracts of high school at risk/alternative teacher Jason Lansing and elementary reading teacher Kelly Siegel to full time, and amended the contract of Ekstrand special- education associate Deb Petersen by increasing her hours.
Hired for full-time positions were Spencer Lueders for first grade, Heather Sturtz for kindergarten, Demi Huston for fourth grade and Jennie Froeschle as middle school social studies teacher.
Ramsey Hinkle was hired as the .75 high school speech/language arts teacher as well as drama teacher at .10 and assistant high school speech coach at .03 on the stipend schedule.
In the second phase of the retirement incentive program, the board approved the early retirement of special education teacher Eleanor Ivens. She will receive $15,000 over three years.
In reports, Lansing presented information on the E2020 on-line learning courses, Peterson discussed the district’s name for further input, and a Junior Achievement representative reported on that program. Technology and Innovation Director Amy Wichman said the district had been chosen to participate in the Skills Iowa program endorsed by Gov. Terry Branstad.
The board approved a grant application to the Clinton County Development Association for a number of improvements to sports facilities. The district is asking for a matching grant of $196,350.
On the consent agenda the board approved student-teaching agreements with Luther College and the University of Northern Iowa.