Unified School District 410 Board of Education unanimously approved a mill increase of 1.177 for the 2012-13 budget at its Aug. 13 meeting.
The board made its decision after discussing Superintendent Steve Noble’s recommendation of a 2.138 mill increase from the previous fiscal year.
Noble said he based his recommendation on the negative impact on the district’s capital outlay funds caused by reductions in base state aid per pupil over past years.
Board president Eddie Weber questioned whether the mill increase was necessary.
“I lean toward the status quo (of not raising the mill levy),” Weber said, knowing many people have faced financial challenges.
Agreeing with Weber, board member Deb Geis said, “Farmers aren’t having a good year either.”
Weber’s rationale for no increase, he said, is the possibility that Gov. Sam Brownback’s decision to lower income-tax rates will spur economic growth in the state and not result in further cuts to education funding.
As a taxpayer, Noble said, he would prefer maintaining the current mill levy, but as an educational leader he wanted to avoid a future spike resulting from district enrollment and state aid remaining flat.
Board members Rod Koons, Gary Andrews and Chad Nowak expressed support for some increase in the mill levy for the local option budget, as it determines the amount of state aid the district receives.
“We’ve proven we can operate within where we’re at (financially),” Koons said. “We do a pretty good job with what we have control of…. The biggest variable we don’t have control of is bonded interest.”
In response, Noble said, “That’s the largest culprit to why our mill levy is increasing.”
Depending on property values, Noble said, each mill generates about $32,000 for the district.
“A mill is almost able to pay for a teacher,” he said. “We’ve increased our operating expenses…mainly salaries (for 2012-13).”
The approved mill increase will result in residents with property valued at $100,000 paying an additional $13.54 for the year.
For the third consecutive month, the board listened to a presentation related to increasing energy efficiency for facilities in the district.
Ben Trout of EPM—a company that manufactures computerized temperature control systems—offered recommendations regarding needed replacement of equipment.
Trout’s presentation followed a demonstration made by maintenance director Keith Goossen of the system installed by EPM nearly 10 years ago. It enables him to regulate heating and air conditioning from any computer with Internet access.
In other business, the board:
• approved an hourly wage of $8 for substitution aides, which matches the rates of other temporary staff positions.
• approved renewing the lease for Grace Community Church, with the added language that the lessor may consider increasing the rent amount prior to entering into a new agreement at the close of the present lease.
The new six-month lease becomes effective Oct. 8.
“The relationship (between the church and USD 410) is good right now,” Noble said.
• reviewed several policy changes recommended by the Kansas Association of School Boards. Noble will bring a recommendation to the board next month.
• approved a 3 percent salary increase for Brandi Hendrix, director of Technology Excellence in Education Network.
• approved disposing of two band instruments.
• approved, after meeting in executive session, the resignation of Diedre Serene as school nurse, the retirement of Eldon Funk as bus driver and contracts for Robert Haude as assistant football coach for Hillsboro High School and Amanda Marler as a bus driver.
• listened to Noble’s superintendent report regarding the waiver of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The waiver buys the state of Kansas time until the new act comes out that will replace or make adjustments to No Child Left Behind.
Noble said the district took in $3,400 from the recent auction. Also, regarding the option of bond refinancing, at this point the bonds are not callable.
• heard reports from board member Mark Rooker about TEEN and Deb Geis regarding Marion County Special Education Cooperative.
• heard from business manager Jerry Hinerman regarding the computerized clock-in/clock-out system now in use by the district.