USD 410 board approves three student trips, considers policy changes

With all seven board members present, an air of good humor and anticipation was evident at the regular USD 410 Board of Education meeting Aug. 14.

With the new school year less than two days away, attention shifted from summer preparations to tying up loose ends and gearing up to kick off the year.

Three trips approved

The board approved three requests for student trips.

Newly hired advisor Sonya Roberts requested the Hillsboro FFA Chapter be granted permission to attend the national convention in Indianapolis Ind.

In previous years, the group had traveled by bus, but Roberts requested two district vehicles instead.

“We would like to stop in St. Louis and see the sights,” she said, adding that bus travel was severely restrictive and that there was no shuttle from the hotel to the convention center, so a van would have to be rented.

The group would include eight members, the advisor and one male sponsor. The board calculated the $90 per-person bus fee would roughly equal the expense of taking two vehicles.

Monica Leihy, FCCLA sponsor, requested her group be allowed to take a trip to Frontier City in Oklahoma City at the beginning of the school year.

Rod Koons, board president, asked how the trip was relevant to the FCCLA program, and whether a more suitable outing might be available.

“This experience increases involvement on part of students, shows them alternative employment opportunities, and is educational,” Leihy responded, adding that students who attended the trip were more likely to participate in the organization for the remainder of the year.

Board member Eddie Weber recommended the addition of a side trip to the Murrah Federal Building bombing memorial to make trip even more educational. Leihy amended the proposal to include the stop at the Murrah Building.

Gregg Walker, director of bands, asked the board to approve the Trojan Band Trip to Branson, Mo. The trip would involve competing in front of three different judges and a visit to Silver Dollar City.

Walker said his request for funds was necessary due to board policy and procedure, but may not need to actually be granted. He said the Trojan Band would be doing fund-raisers to pay for the trip.

“We need to commend you in that,” Koons said, adding that additional benefits came from being self-sufficient.

Policy change declined

The board took no action to change the district’s current transportation policy regarding in response from local day-care providers to do so.

A group of nine day-care providers had requested the district transport 17 kindergarten students to various destinations within the city limits.

Although viewed as a legitimate need, several concerns were raised. One concern was the estimated $3,400 per year the service would cost the district.

Another concern was that the request would deviate from the current policy. Mohn said current practice is only to transport students living outside of Hillsboro city limits, with the only exception being the in-town route that was established to alleviate heavy after-school traffic.

Mohn said no action on the request was necessary unless the board wanted to change the current practice.

Usage policy changed

With the recent violence at a youth basketball event in Newton, the board approved changes in its facility usage policy containing additional requirements about security.

The additions state: “The district reserves the right to require renters to provide uniformed security for the event,” and “renters will be financially responsible for damage to district facilities or equipment.”

A similar statement was on the application for usage, but not in the guidelines. The board also increased usage fees for “for-profit” groups using the facility because of the increasing cost of operating buildings as well as the elimination of a special charge for air conditioning.

Mill-levy clarification

A discussion of the 2006-07 budget resulted in the clarification that the new budget does not require a mill-levy increase.

The budget that was published did indicate a slight increase in the mill levy. It was published that way because the maximum does not have to be funded, but once published, a budget cannot be increased.

The district has been building cash reserves, but overspending could eliminate those reserves quickly. In order to limit growth of cash reserves and be financially responsible, it was suggested the district spend $65,000 yearly of the cash reserves. This amount would be equal to revenue generated annually in the capital outlay fund.

In order to actualize the change, it was suggested that $65,000 used for bus replacement be moved from the general fund to capital outlay. It would be possible to move funds from capital outlay if the general fund becomes depleted.

Although the changes may seem confusing, the bottom line is-in reality, the mill essentially stays the same.

The board agreed to call a special board meeting at 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 24, in the HHS/ HMS Technology Center in order to hold the budget hearing and adopt the 2006-07 budget.

Frustrated by MCSEC services

A Marion County Special Education Cooperative report by board representative Debbie Geis generated animated discussion.

The district currently has only one speech therapist, located in Marion. This has caused some children in the district to go without those particular services.

Mohn expressed his frustration with the situation, and said his concerns fell on deaf ears with the other members of the co-op.

“If we have one therapist in the county, and we are a co-op, why are our kids not getting served?” Mohn said.

He said Hillsboro would be willing to bus the children with the greatest need to Marion, but that the solution was rejected.

Geis suggested Mohn’s ideas were resisted because with this particular disability, it is difficult to rank who is severe and who isn’t. She acknowledged the concerns over parents’ reactions when they find out their children are not going to receive services.

“We have to communicate to that (MCSEC) board that we are disappointed as to the lack of service to some students,” Koons said. The board agreed a letter should be written concerning the spirit of the cooperative and equity of services.

Other business

In other matters, the board:

after hearing from Keith Goossen, director of transportation and maintenance, approved the purchase of two new buses. Goossen said buying the buses now, before emissions standards changed, would save the district between $5,000 and $7,000.

was informed by Mohn of a potentially serious water problem at the elementary school. A “mystery leak” needed to be dealt with quickly because of its location, the age of the building, and the serious structural problems it could potentially cause.

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