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Unit One may have to borrow money

Thursday, May 25, 2017 - Updated: 12:00 PM
Michele Longworth
Massac Unit One school board members were told about cost reduction measures for the 2017-18 school year and also were told the district might have to borrow money in order to make payroll in July.
Massac County High School Principal Jason Hayes, filling in for Unit One Superintendent Dennis Smith, gave a Powerpoint presentation to the board concerning those details.
Unit One has approximately $2,000,000 left to get through May, June and July.
According to the information presented, the shortfall is partially due to the shortened payments for transportation, special education and special education transportation the state has not sent.
Hayes said each payroll is over $500,000 and in addition to that, over $400,000 in non-health insurance premiums are due in July.
According to the information he presented, the district spent over $1.5 million more in 2014-15 than in 2013-14.
 In May 2015, the district purchased its own school bonds for $2.1 million. By the end of June 2015, the ending cash balance dropped from $10,051,753 (in June 2014) to $6,587,180.  Also in 2015, the state shorted the district by about $500,000 in reimbursements and other payments.
According to Hayes, the trend over the last three years indicates the district has been spending about $1.08-$1.10 for every $1 of revenue that is received.  He said the district needs to cut 8-10 percent of spending across the district.  “It sounds easy to spend .10 cents less for every dollar, until you add it all up and realize that means saving $20,000,000 dimes overall,” said Hayes.
Hayes said the staff has been very helpful in the endeavor to reduce costs.  “All the transfers and movement have been voluntary, even though these were not their first choice or even something staff members really wanted to do.  We are greatly appreciative of our staff and their willingness to work with us in order to cut our spending and balance our budget,” said Hayes.
According to Hayes, the district has already eliminated seven teaching positions, two administrative positions and five teacher aide positions for next year.  He explained there was one more teaching position, but it “fell through due to numbers,” he said.
He told board members he had presented this information to the district employees the afternoon of May 17.
So far the district has:
• cut approximately $639,000 in base salaries - not including benefits - for next year.
• cut textbook supplies by about 50 percent
Hayes explained with the loss of the tennis courts and a decline in interest in tennis, his recommendation is to suspend the program.  He said if the program would have continued, the district would only be able to participate in away games and that would have increased the costs.  Hayes’ proposal was to eliminate two tennis head coaches.  In addition to that, the assistant baseball and softball coaches for boys and girls teams would also be eliminated. A motion was made and approved to eliminate the tennis program and eliminate those positions.
Hayes had told the board those cuts, close to $18,000, which is $15,000 in stipends and about $3000 to $5000 in transportation costs.
He also said the district will attempt to utilize the Title I grant more effectively next year in order to help pay for some of the targeted interventions that are provided. They are looking at cutting supply costs too.  A meeting will be held next week with the custodians to review a new ordering process to assist with the cost cutting.
Another area being investigated is that of energy savings and matching grants for switching some of the older buildings to LED lighting.
Other areas Hayes is looking at include: laundry services, some maintenance contracts and health insurance coverage.  
He told the board the non-health insurance policies would likely increase because the district has two tornado claims in the past five years.  “We are waiting to see what the quotes look like in this area,” he said, adding, “Overall, we do not believe we can balance the budget for next year with all these cuts, but we hope to save approximately $1,000,000 next year.
Under the subject of personnel, the board approved a motion accepting the following resignations: Luke Caporale, MJHS baseball; Jenna Harner, MCHS assistant cheer coach; Tim Lawson, MCHS boys soccer head coach; Parker Windhorst, MCHS boys basketball assistant coach; Renee Newbold, MES teacher aide; Fredricka Hashegen, Brookport teacher aide; and Sarah Wessel, MES principal.
The board also acknowledged the transfers of: JoEllyn Davis, to Franklin Elementary, split classroom; Koren Dowd to MJHS special education resources; Julie Cagle to MES third; and Julie Russell to MES cross-categorical special education.
Hayes also told the board as the No Child Left Behind is phased out and Every Student Exceeds Act (ESEA) is implemented, some support personnel job descriptions will have to be updated.  Because of that, 17 positions would have to be eliminated.  But, he emphasized no one would be losing their jobs.
New job positions would be created to align with the district’s Title One plan that is currently being written, to address new guidelines and requirements from ESEA. A motion was made and approved eliminating the 17 job positions in order to create the new positions.
Just prior to adjourning, board member Larry Sommer raised a question about the placement of public comment on the board’s agenda.  He pointed out if the board takes action on items, the public has to wait until the next meeting to voice their opinions.
Hayes said he would have to double check, but believed the public comment portion could be placed at any point in the agenda, either at the beginning or end.
Board Secretary Lisa Monkman noted too that during public comment, the board legally does not have to respond to individuals who make public comments.
In other business, the board:
• Approved bids for food, student pictures and student insurance.  The low bidder on student photos was Lifetouch.  The only bidder for bread was Bimbo USA (Earthgrains) and the low bidder for dairy was Prairie Farms, the only bidder for delivered pizza was Dominos and for frozen foods the only bid was Kohl Wholesale.  
• Gave its final approval on the 2016-17 school calendar


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