De Soto School District’s Board of Education met Monday evening, Jan. 14. From a policy standpoint, the highlights of their agenda were:
- A report on the local option budget that will be on the general election ballot next April. According to the agenda:
As you may recall, the school district will ask voters for authorization to increase the local option budget by one percent in order to utilize a funding source known as ‘Cost of Living’ instead of using Extraordinary Growth funds. If approved by voters, the district would draw fewer taxes and slightly lower the mill levy. If voters deny the authorization, then the mill levy would decrease by more than five mills over the next two years. However, the district would need to reduce expenses by more than $3 million. You can read more on the website at http://www.usd232.org/localoptionbudget.
- A report on the school board election scheduled for next April.
- A report informing the board that information for parents regarding a full-day kindergarten pilot program is now posted on the district website.
- A school safety and security update in the wake of the shootings at Connecticut’s Sandy Hill Elementary School.
- A recommendation to re-hire a CPA firm — Long, CPA, PA — the district has used for the past six years to conduct the annual fiscal audit.
- A report from the finance committee regarding the need to reduce expenditures by at least $900,000 and perhaps as much as $1.5 million for the coming fiscal year. According to the agenda, “The committee asked that administration submit a list of possible reductions for the board to consider.”
- Discussion of a proposed survey of residents to determine how they would like the district to spend dollars remaining from the sale of school bond debt previously approved by voters.
- An update on improvements to De Soto High School funded by school bond funds.
- A report about new requirements for evaluations of teachers and administrators as a condition the federal waiver the state received for compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act.
- A proposal to offer a Summer Food Service Program for district patrons and community members again this year. According to the agenda, “During these continued difficult financial times, we are in a position to provide for families’ basic needs while incurring little to no expense to the district.”
- Proposed new courses for district schools, including a class focusing on the ACT Test and College Preparation.
- An update on plans to expose high school students to the large, lecture-style classes they may be encountering in college.
- An update on proposed changes to ensure continued state funding for the district’s Career Technical Education program. Career and college readiness is a focus on the new national Common Core Standards, which Kansas adopted and are being phased in this year.
- A report on the district’s loss in the midst of the school year of almost a third of federal Title I funding, which is used to assist students from disadvantaged families. According to the agenda:
Obviously an unexpected drastic loss of this kind is difficult in which to adjust [sic]. Currently we utilize $155,322.00 to pay the yearly salaries, benefits and sick days of our three Title One Teachers at Starside Elementary. While remaining Title One funds are sufficient to meet existing staff costs, only $36,000.00 remains to support Title One literacy resources, intervention materials, and staff professional development.
- A report on district Wellness Initiatives emphasizing the importance of educating parents as well as students.
Read our Twitter feed for more education news from local, regional and national sources:http://twitter.com/#!/JW_Martinez
Or you can sign up for a free subscription to the daily KC Education Enterprise roundup of local, state and national education news on paper.li: http://paper.li/JW_Martinez/1322883462