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December School Board Meetings — Week 3

Illustration Credit: KC Education Enterprise / Photo Credit: 123rf stock image

Illustration Credit: KC Education Enterprise / Photo Credit: 123rf stock image

Eight local school boards met during the second week of December.

Kansas

Turner

Highlight:

  • Routine responsibilities of governance. 

Missouri

Center

Highlights:

  • Heard an announcement that Tuesday, Dec. 18, was the first day to file to run for a seat on the school board. Filing closes Tuesday, Jan. 15. The election will be next April. 
  • Heard an announcement that there will be a closed school board meeting Tuesday, Jan. 14, to conduct the superintendent’s annual job evaluation.
  • Received a report regarding the district’s annual fiscal audit, which revealed one significant deficiency and three material weaknesses. In the report, the material weaknesses are described as follows:

During our audit we noted that the District utilizes computerized check signatures. Accordingly, when checks are printed they include two authorized signatures. Presently, internal controls are not adequate since the Director of Business who is responsible for performing the bank reconciliation also has access to the check stock and can print checks.

The payroll clerk sets up new employees in the computer, inputs payroll information, and processes direct deposit authorization. The payroll clerk also has access to the check stock and can print checks, which are automatically signed during the printing process.

The District must prepare a final expenditure report and maintenance of effort report based upon actual expenditures related to IDEA program and submit the reports to DESE. … The maintenance of effort report submitted to DESE had expenditure reporting variances when compared with actual amounts expended for IDEA related services.

And the significant deficiency is described as follows:

The District engages the auditor to assist in the preparation of the draft financial statements and the Director of Business is designated to oversee the audit services performed. We noted during our audit that the District personnel do not have sufficient experience in the applicable accounting principles and disclosure requirements used to prepare the draft financial statements. Further, the District does not have procedures to use disclosure checklists when reviewing the draft financial statements.

  • Considered revising the district policy governing “Support Staff Leaves and Absences.”

Hickman Mills

Highlights:

  • Signed an agreement with Leading Educators to provide professional development for eight teacher coaches. According to the agenda: “The focus of this program is on developing strong academic leaders to increase student achievement.”
  • Received a report on the district’s annual fiscal audit, which identified one material weakness and one significant deficiency. The material weakness is described as follows:

The budget analyst and associate superintendent of business have the following accounting system permissions: approve purchase orders, add vendors, approve invoices, and print checks. Additionally, the budget analyst is the accounting software administrator and performs the bank reconciliation. … Accounting duties should be segregated such that a single individual does not have care, custody and control of District assets.

And the significant deficiency is described as follows:

The compliance requirements reflect that the District is required to maintain an inventory of capital assets purchased with Federal funds. This inventory should identify assets by its funding source and allow for ease of tracing the inventoried item to its building location … During our testing of expenditures which were funded with Federal revenue, we noted that several equipment items tested were not ordered through or shipped to the information technology department at the Baptiste location, as per the District’s procedures, so that the items could be properly recorded and tagged with bar codes for inventory tracking.

  • Received metal detector log sheets and a police summary report.

Kansas City

Highlights:

  • Voted unanimously to adopt a sequestration resolution: 

WHEREAS, a world class public education is essential for the future success of our nation and today’s schoolchildren; and

WHEREAS, the Budget Control Act of 2011 includes a provision to impose $1.2 trillion in across-the-board budget cuts to almost all federal programs including education that would become effective January 2, 2013; and

WHEREAS, these across-the-board budget cuts would impact school districts during the 2013-14 school year, with the exception of the Impact Aid program, with which a reduction would become effective this school year; and

WHEREAS, these across-the-board budget cuts, also known as sequestration, would impact education by a reduction in funds of 8.2 percent or more and could result in larger class sizes, fewer course offerings, possible four-day school weeks, loss of extracurricular activities, and teacher and staff lay-offs; and

WHEREAS, sequestration would impact almost every public school system in the nation and the millions of students educated through programs such as Title I grants for disadvantaged students, the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), English Language Acquisition, Career and Technical Education, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and more; and

WHEREAS, Kansas City Public Schools, as well as other public schools, would be impacted nationwide by an estimated $2.7 billion loss from just three programs alone – Title I grants, IDEA special education state grants and Head Start – that serve a combined 30.7 million children; and

WHEREAS, federal funding for K-12 programs was already reduced by more than $835 million in Fiscal Year 2011, and state and local funding for education continues to be impacted by budget cuts and lower local property tax revenues; and

WHEREAS, states and local governments have very limited capacity to absorb further budget cuts from sequestration, as Kansas City Public Schools, has already implemented cuts commensurate to state and local budget conditions;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that Kansas City Public Schools urges Congress and the Administration to amend the Budget Control Act to mitigate the drastic cuts to education that would affect our students and communities, and to protect education as an investment critical to economic stability and American competitiveness.

  • Voted unanimously to adopt a traffic light safety resolution:

RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE KANSAS CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS URGING THE CITY TO RECONSIDER THE REPLACEMENT OF STOPLIGHTS WITH STOP SIGNS

WHEREAS, the City of Kansas City, Missouri has undertaken a program to replace outdated stoplights with stop signs at certain intersections; and

WHEREAS, many of the affected intersections are located within a mile of Kansas City Public Schools sites and so directly impact students walking and being bussed to school; and

WHEREAS, the change from stoplights to stop signs has caused confusion to motorists, made it difficult for students to cross at intersections and directly threatens student, staff and parent safety; and

WHEREAS, as a result of public complaints, the City has postponed the implementation of the stop signs for sixty days so that additional evaluation can be done.

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Directors of the Kansas City Public Schools urges the City to permanently postpone the implementation until the issue of student safety can be addressed, and asks that the City work with the Board to fully understand and take into consideration the special circumstances surrounding the flow of students, parents and buses at each school site.

  • Voted to spend slightly more than $14,000 on asbestos inspections for three closed schools. Board member Marisol Montero cast the sole vote in opposition to this expenditure. According to the agenda:

Several of the district’s closed school sites are in poor condition and/or have been targets of repeated vandalism.  In some cases, neighborhood associations have indicated that due to current condition, vandalism, and/or lack of viable reuse interest in the sites, the surrounding communities would be agreeable to demolition.

Some environmental abatement will be necessary prior to demolition and consultant services are needed to determine the level and type of abatement.

Lee’s Summit

Highlights:

  • Superintendent David McGehee reported that filing has opened for district residents wishing to run for open school board seats. According to the agenda:

The Board has two seats open for (re)-election. Thus far two candidates have filed; Phyllis Balagna and Bob White. Candidate filing is open until January 15, 2013.

  • The superintendent also addressed concerns about school security in the wake of the shootings at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School:

Since the tragedy we have worked diligently to provide support to our schools and to communicate with our staff and families about ongoing efforts to provide a safe and caring learning environment for our students. We have also provided resources for families to use in talking about this incident with their children if they choose to do so.

Finally, much internal discussion has occurred and will continue in the weeks to come in an effort to ensure any systemic improvements we can make that will increase the safety of our staff and students during a crisis. This is a time for all of us to refocus on ensuring that safety procedures are known, practiced, and followed at all times. As with any tragedy, we must learn everything we can from it and use it to protect children from future harm to the best of our ability.

Liberty

Highlights:

  • Considered revising three district policies governing “School Board Powers and Duties,” “Professional Staff Short-Term Leaves and Absences” and “Support Staff Leaves and Absences.”
  • Voted unanimously to revise the district policy governing “Early Separation Incentive Plan.”
  • Voted unanimously to approve an “Early Separation Incentive Plan.”
  • Voted unanimously to approve a resolution related to stadium fund raising:

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Liberty Public School District No. 53 will accept private funds/donations from the Liberty School District Foundation and or the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation specifically earmarked for the purpose of building and or renovating, as the District shall in its discretion deem appropriate, a District athletic/multipurpose facility.

  • Received a safety and security update.

Platte County

Highlights:

The bookkeeper who inputs payroll information and processes direct deposit payroll authorization has the ability to set up new employees. … Internal controls should be in place to segregate duties for payroll disbursements.

The bookkeeper who inputs all accounts payable checks has the ability to print a check and electronically sign the check without approval or a purchase order. … Safeguards should be in place so that a transaction cannot be electronically signed without proper approval.

The District engages the auditor to assist in the preparation of the draft financial statements and the notes to the financial statements and the Superintendent is designated to oversee these non-attest services performed. We noted that the District does not have procedures to use disclosure checklists when reviewing the draft financial statements. … The design and operation of internal control procedures should permit management to prevent, detect, and correct misstatements in the draft financial statements prepared by the auditor.

  • Received a legislative update.

Raymore-Peculiar

Highlight:

  • Considered revising a list of district policies governing topics such as “District Wellness Program,” “Staff Health and Safety” and “Visitors to District Property/Events.”

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About jwmartinez

JoLynne is a journalist and educator. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Park University and is certified to teach high school journalism and English. Former employment includes work for Cable News Network and the University of Missouri-Kansas City in addition to freelancing for clients such as the Kansas City Star and The Pitch.

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