School administrative staff will be reorganized

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By Dave Bell

Like other school districts around the state, the Vandalia Community School District is watching its finances carefully. Delinquent payments from the state and rising operating costs are chipping away at districts' reserves – if they’re fortunate enough to have any.

To maximize the local district’s chances of success in the midst of that budget squeeze, Superintendent Rich Well announced on Tuesday a plan to reorganize the district office administrative staff.

With the pending retirement of executive secretary Linda Schulte at the end of the current fiscal year (June 30, 2010), several employees in the district office will have new job descriptions, and current part-time district business manager Lori Meseke will be moved to full-time.

“We felt that it was important to make the district business manager a full-time position, but we did not feel we could incur additional costs,” Well said in a prepared statement read to the board.

“The retirement of Linda Schulte allows the district to make these changes without any increase in expenditures at the administration office.

"We will realign office responsibilities and positions, while eliminating one full-time secretary position and adding a half-time business position," Well said.

Meseke, who has been teaching accounting classes at Vandalia Community High School in addition to serving as the district’s part-time business manager, will give up her teaching duties. A new teacher will be hired to replace her.

Replacing Schulte as executive secretary will be Staci Carroll, who previously served as an administrative aid. Retaining their previous titles, but taking on some additional duties, will be: bookkeeper Tammy Nordyke, administrative assistant of personnel Debbie Lewis and part-time treasurer Molly Kirk.

Well said that all other districts in the conference have full-time business managers.

“This will allow us to have another set of eyes to look over district expenditures and to do more projections of our finances,” he said. “As a result, I’ll be able to have more time to address educational and personnel issues.”

On the topic of finances, Well told the board that the state now has amassed a backlog of bills to be paid of $4.2 billion – with about $757 million of that being money owed to the state’s school districts.

In other business, the board approved a district tax levy totaling $3,685,424. That levy request, which will be sent to the county clerk, includes $1,797,286 for educational services, $488,393 for operations and maintenance, $195,357 for transportation, $48,839 for working cash, $224,250 for municipal retirement, $224,250 for Social Security, $48,839 for fire prevention and safety, $570,300 for tort immunity, $39,071 for special education and $48,839 for leasing.

The aggregate levy increase is 4.99 percent. However, with an increase of 6 percent in the district’s Equalized Assessed Valuation, the money being requested by the district represents an actual increase of 3.38 percent (or $166,703).

In his monthly financial report, Well told board members that the district has received 47 percent of its annual budgeted revenues and has made expenditures totaling 40 percent of its annual budgeted expenditures in its four operating accounts. That leaves the district with a balance in those operating accounts of $4,254,843.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the board heard a report from Dana Kirk on the Study Island program, a program used with junior high students to prepare them for taking the ISAT test. Study Island is an online program designed to help students improve their proficiency in math, English and science. The questions in the program are in the same format as the ISAT tests, thus familiarizing the students with that type of test.

The board also approved bids for gas and diesel fuel for the year Jan. 1, 2010, to Dec. 31, 2010, from South Central FS. The gas bid was $2.56 per gallon and the diesel fuel bid was $2.68 per gallon. The gas is 45 cents per gallon higher than last fiscal year, while the diesel is 10 cents per gallon higher.

The board also approved the expenditure of about $89,000 for five portable computer carts – with each cart including 16 laptop computers, one printer and a wireless transmitter. Well said that the carts are helpful when teachers need their students to do work on computers but don’t want to move the entire class to the school’s computer lab.

The school calendar for the coming weeks shows semester exams on Dec. 21 and 22; the holiday break from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3; a teachers’ institute on Jan. 4; and the first day of classes for the new semester is Jan. 5.

School board member Matt Hall was absent from the meeting.

The two-hour meeting was adjourned at 9:05 p.m.