Schools brace for big cuts

Expecting $102,000 lost to declining enrollment, increasing insurance costs

Staff writer

USD 398 Superintendent Ron Traxson started the school board meeting Monday with a bombshell, even though members knew was going to drop.

For the 2014-15 school year, the district will lose about $93,000 from the general fund in state financing because of declining enrollment. With rising health costs, set for institution in October 2014, the district will need to pay $58 on every single individual policy. Traxson figured that would raise the total losses for the district to about $102,000.

Traxson said these future cuts would not affect the staff in 2013-14. However, he said decisions made next year would affect the district for years to come.

There is some hope. Traxson said Kansas courts ruled in favor of Schools for Fair Funding demanding the state to provide funding for schools. Thus far, the state has not responded to the court order. Traxson hopes there will be more funding available next year.

“They would like to pay for it using property taxes,” he said. “All kids throughout the state don’t live in big counties. It’s an equity factor for all kids in the state.”

While the district will eventually need to cut expenditures in the general fund, the capital outlay fund can only be used for maintenance projects.

The board decided to receive bids for the Peabody-Burns Elementary School roof. Traxson said there have been leaks. With the cost of roofs for the cafeteria, vocational agriculture building, and Brown Gymnasium last summer, Traxson projects the 16,000 square foot elementary school roof will cost about $75,000.

“We should be in good shape after this summer,” Traxson said.

After the roof is settled, the district is also looking to replace carpeting, replace a copier, and repair a boiler.

In other business:

  • The board approved raising prices for meals. Elementary breakfast went up a nickel and lunch went up a quarter. High school lunch changed to 40 cents. Adult meals went up a nickel. Extra milk went up a nickel. Traxson said these changes are still below state suggested norms meant to meet the rising cost of produce. He said the district’s goal is to introduce changes gradually.
  • High school principal Tim Robertson updated the board on changes to the high school schedule. The school is going from eight periods a day to seven. The extra time will be a morning advisory period to allow struggling students extra study time and a time for activities.
  • The district will attempt to sell a 1932 Phaeton, restored the PBHS automotive mechanics class back to the original owner.
  • The board accepted a $500 donation from Gene Green to the Peabody Adventure Club.
  • The board committee approved six recipients for awards to be handed out a graduation on Sunday.
  • The board met for 35 minutes of executive session to discuss negotiations.
  • The board met for 15 minutes of executive session each to discuss administrative and classified contracts. Out of the administrative discussion, the board changed the payment period from 12 months to 11 months, with July as a vacation month.
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