Bloomfield opts out of Stoddard County Alternative School

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Due to financial concerns, the Bloomfield School Board voted to opt out of the Stoddard County Alternative School at a special meeting held Monday night.

The board also approved amendments to the 2009-10 district budget and approved a total budget of $6,134,556 for the 2010-11 school year at the special meeting.

Dr. Nicholas Thiele, superintendent, cited "financial concerns" as the main reason for the board to consider opting out of the alternative school. He said the program was feasible when all the county schools participated. The recent decision by the Dexter School District to pull out of the county school, non-participation by the Richland School District and the uncertainty of whether Advance would participate led the Bloomfield district to decide to incorporate the alternative school into their regular curriculum, Thiele said.

Thiele told the board that the in-school suspension program was being changed to education placement.

"We will have student placements in that program from one to 45 days or more," Thiele said. "Extended assignments will participate in the computerized A+ Learning System for core academic classes. Short-term assignments will receive daily work from their regular teachers."

Thiele said the move would save the district approximately $46,000 per school year. He said four current faculty members would serve as placement teachers, eliminating the need for salaried personnel at the alternative school.

Thiele warned that the decision "could lead to out-of-school suspensions for those students who (education placement) may not be effective or appropriate".

"This is a domino effect from other schools pulling out," said board member Dave Cooper.

"It's a sign of the times," said Thiele who said he anticipated more cuts would be needed as the state struggles to fund services with declining revenue.

The board voted 6-0 to opt out of the county alternative school with President Don Lafferty, Cooper, Bill Robison, Mike Newell, Ryan Mayo and Trevor Pulley voting in favor of the motion. Board member David Battles was not present.

The board unanimously approved amending the 2010-11 district budget which showed an increase in revenue above the budgeted amount of $91,034. The total expenditures for the year showed $6,134,556 with $2,433,459 in the general fund, $3,533,603 in the special revenue fund and $167,494 in the capital improvements fund.

Thiele recommended that the expenses of summer school and the Career Ladder Program come from the 2010-11 budget, a practice carried over from the past few years.

Thiele said the district would carry over $537,985 into the next fiscal year, which was more than the $317,731.21 carryover in 2009. He noted that the carryover was now increasing instead of decreasing as it had been since 2003.

"It is still not a comfortable balance," Thiele told the board.

Thiele said he would like to see a 25 percent carryover from year-to-year. He said cuts in transportation funding and in the state funding formula this past year may be small in comparison to the cuts next year. He said the school district needed a "cushion" against unforeseen cuts. He said some cuts were made this past year including not rehiring for some positions and more cuts would likely need to be made in the coming year.

After the board passed the budget amendments, Thiele recommended that the board approve the 2010-2011 district budget using the same figures as the amended 2009-10 budget. The board approved that recommendation by a 6-0 vote.

In other action, the board approved a payment of $151,872.36 to Pyramid Roofing of Sikeston for materials purchased to replace the roof on the elementary building. Pyramid Roofing was awarded the contract at a total cost of $476,500.

Thiele told the board that the district had $202,782 in the capital improvement funds and that money could be used to pay the roofing company. He said the payment would be made after July 1 this year so that it would come from the 2010-11 budget. He also said that LJ Hart and Company representatives would be at the July 12 board meeting to finalize the issuing of bonds to finance the roofing project. He said he was hopeful that funding from the bonds would be available by the end of July. The funds taken from capital improvements would be restored by the bond money.

Other items discussed at the board meeting included:

* Approval of paying Missouri School Boards' Association dues of $3,900;

* Releasing a federal grant of $15,619 to the Sikeston Career and Technology Center in lieu of tuition for students taking classes there. Thiele said approximately 25 to 30 students take courses there;

* A school board president's workshop presented by the Missouri Association of Rural Education will be held at Bloomfield on July 22. The meeting is required for school board presidents but is open to all board members.

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