BOE mulls state aid cuts



February 9, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Board members will meet in a special session at 6 p.m. Feb. 17 to discuss how to deal with anticipated additional cuts in state aid to USD 257.
The district has lost $1.1 million in state aid since September 2008. The latest setback was a $426,000 reduction in November.
To date, the district has dealt with the revenue losses by cutting spending. Some personnel cuts have occurred, notably when LaHarpe Elementary School was closed at the end of last spring semester. Further reductions of any significance likely will involve Iola faculty and staff. About 80 percent of the district’s operating budget goes for salaries.
Adding to the anxiety for board members and administrators is not knowing how deeply state aid may be cut. Dr. Craig Neuenswander, superintendent of schools, noted that legislators were not likely to complete the fiscal 2011 budget, which takes effect July 1, until late April or May.
“However, we already know more reductions are very likely for USD 257,” he said, and he wants to establish guidelines for next year’s budget, which will be developed in June for board approval in July.
The special session will be open to the public. Included will be an executive session for discussion of non-elected personnel.
Monday night board members met in closed session for 45 minutes to discuss personnel and contract negotiations. Afterward they renewed Neuenswander’s contract and hired Deedra Frazion to teach English full time at the high school. Frazion had been working as a long-term substitute for Erica McCoy, who had been on maternity leave. McCoy recently gave birth and decided to resign her position.

TWO DAYS lost to severe winter weather last month will be made up, but students won’t be involved.
Board members decided to make up the days May 24 and 25, at the conclusion of the spring semester, and to set them aside for staff development.
Board members’ rationale was that bringing students back then, a Monday and Tuesday, wouldn’t be academically productive. Finals will have been completed and seniors will have been out of school since mid-May. Teachers, though, can benefit from the extra time in discussions of curriculum and instruction principles that may be applied in the fall semester, they reasoned.
The days could have been forgiven. The district has 2.6 days more than required built into its calendar.

BOARD members accepted a bid of $3,245, the lower of two, from Advanced Cabinet Systems, Iola, for kitchen and bath cabinets and molding for the building trades class house being constructed in the Cedarbrook Addition.

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