Kathy Dzewaltowski, observer
The work session focused on facilities in terms of what might be considered for a bond. Dave Colburn mentioned changing the entrances for the middle schools to improve security, and he wondered if there should be a standard established and what could be achieved to improve safety. Eric Reid, Asst. Supt., reported on the two community meetings that had been held, in which approximately 30 persons had attended each time. The meetings had discussed the possibilities of building a new elementary school, making elementary schools K-5 instead of the current K-6, creating two early learning sites, and the tax implications of a bond. Board members had been provided a summary of the community meetings, and Leah Fliter said she was struck by the amount of discussion focused on a second high school because the board had not discussed it much. She thought the board would need to clearly communicate why they might not go that route due to the expense of acquiring land for a second high school and many other variables. Mr. Colburn said he’d had a similar discussion with the Chamber of Commerce about what is really needed, and a second high school isn’t a need. He thought there were many other needs that stack up before the board would get to a second high school. Mr. Reid thought that people view adding a wing on to the high school as just pushing a second high school down the road of something that will eventually have to be done. Katrina Lewison thought it wasn’t so much about the money, but rather, why move 9th graders up to the main campus? She also thought it was a misconception people have that building a second high school would be more cost effective. Jurdene Coleman asked if there is data from other districts that would be helpful in determining when a second high school is needed, and Mr. Reid said that the second high school decision tends to be a community-driven decision, meaning districts build second high schools for different reasons. Several board members commented that the decision to have one or two high schools should be based on what’s best educationally, since the current high school isn’t overcrowded. Darrell Edie commented that a new high school might cost $120 million, and the elementary level is overcrowded, and the board needs to emphasize that. Mr. Colburn cautioned the board that one or two people can make a lot of noise about a particular issue, but they’re not responsible for making decisions and looking at all of the options.
Lew Faust, Dir. of Business Services, provided the board with a legislative update. Districts’ cash balances have been discussed, and Mr. Faust noted that the majority of USD 383’s cash balances are in restricted funds, with only 20% in the general operating fund. Mr. Colburn commented that half of the state’s payment comes in June at the end of the fiscal year instead of July, so it makes it look like districts have a lot of money at the end of the year. Mr. Faust reported that legislators are considering a bill that would change the mill levy from the current 20 mills and would gradually raise it to 26 mills, then 32 mills, and then 38 mills, which could impact support for a local bond issue. He also said if the proposed Pres. Trump budget were approved, USD 383 would lose about 15% in federal funding.
The board also discussed a position statement with the plan to send the approved statement to state and federal legislators. In light of the school shooting in Florida in February, the statement was in regards to the district’s needing help in developing solutions that will reduce the likelihood of future incidences of school violence.