As junior varsity and varsity basketball players, fans and cheerleaders were heard chanting through the doors of the Clay Central-Everly music room Monday night in Everly, CC-E school board members broached two formidable topics: district finances and student achievement.
First, the board approved an amended School Budget Review Committee request. It includes additional cuts and a slightly-revamped unspent authorized budget worksheet.
Few items were adjusted from the board's Nov. 21 meeting, in which another fiscal year 2012 amendment was approved.
"Since the SBRC meeting is delayed a little bit, we had the advantage of the state telling us that the number based on meeting the needs of our special education students was $39,000 less than what had been originally anticipated. In addition, we wanted to make sure on the report we submitted this time that we made it very clear that staff cuts implemented last year were actually benefiting us in the form of savings this year," CC-E Board President Sue Brugman explained.
CC-E representatives will be seeking modified allowable growth, to the tune of $742,000, to backfill the four previous years of deficit spending.
"We're alright now as far as this year," Superintendent Robert Raymer said, "because we have more receipts than we have expenditures in our budget. But, we have to go back and backfill from the four previous years what they over-expended. That was the $742,000 that was overspent at the end of fiscal year 2010."
The CC-E superintendent told board members if a budget review allocation for modified allowable growth is received, the district could look at adding staff back. With another board-approved levy in 2012, the district "will be ahead of the game," Raymer added.
"The final news here is that even without additional spending authority from the SBRC, just with the cuts that we have made, we would be $191,734 positive in spending authority at the end of this current fiscal year. That isn't a huge cushion, but it certainly is an adequate amount to be positive. And, it certainly complies with the state regulations," Brugman said. "So, if they were to give us additional spending authority in January, when we go to that SBRC meeting, we'll consider that icing on the cake. But, for right now, we are projected, with our worst-case scenario, to be $191,734 positive."
"It has taken a lot of work, but the community was with us. Actually, the community deserves a huge debt of gratitude because they gave us almost a $500,000 shot in the arm a year ago. We would never have been able to have arrived at this point without their support," she continued. "We're pleased with this product. It was tentatively approved Monday afternoon by Joyce Thomsen at the SBRC. So, we feel pretty confident that we won't have to have anymore evening meetings concerning correction plans."
Raymer, Brugman and CC-E School Improvement Coordinator Shirley Cain are scheduled to present the amended workout plan Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012, to the SBRC.
In other discussion Monday night, CC-E board members addressed how they intend to reverse the district's growing number of failing students.
A 2010-11 annual progress report, submitted to the Iowa Department of Education, showed a number of third through 11th grade CC-E students did not meet the at least 80 percent proficiency goals set for them in the areas of reading comprehension, math or science.
Brugman and CC-E Principal Curt Busch both said there isn't a quick fix to this problem. Board member Scott Rinehart, in the meantime, asked how the board could best relay this message to the district's teachers.
"Somehow this has to be communicated that the board is very serious about his. We have administrators and we have a school improvement coordinator that will see to this," Brugman said. "We can't be wishy-washy about this. This might or might not be popular with our staff, but we have to do this for our students. If we have a large number of students failing, that's terrible."
"You can't tell me it's the students," Rinehart clarified.
"It's not the students," Brugman replied.
Cain told board members the second-semester focus for professional development will be on teachers differentiating instruction in the classroom, ensuring the Iowa Core is integrated into curriculum and determining how individual students can be helped.
Following a Jan. 13, 2012, teacher inservice, the district's two building principals were directed to submit written implementation plans to address, and hopefully correct, CC-E's issue with failing students. In an attempt to improve student achievement, these written reports will be discussed during the regular monthly board meeting on Jan. 18, 2012.
* The CC-E board is scheduled to meet again at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21, in the music room at the Royal school building.