School board handles personnel and policy issues

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By Dave Bell

The Vandalia Board of Education on Tuesday held an abbreviated afternoon meeting that included the approval of a handful of personnel and policy issues.

Also, new board member Connie Goldsmith was sworn in. She was named to the position earlier this month to fill the remaining two years of the position vacated by Tammy Woolsey.

New teachers approved by the board were: Bethany Nave, pre-kindergarten teacher at Jefferson Primary School; Robyn DeMoulin, second-grade teacher at Vandalia Elementary School; and Annette McClintock, fourth-grade teacher at VES.

Kelli White was granted a leave of absence.

And the following coaches were approved: Andy Whitten as Vandalia Community High School golf coach; Julie Dothager as VCHS flag corps coach; and Bryan Hobbie as seventh-grade boys basketball coach.

The board also:

•Approved the prevailing wage rate.

•Approved the joint agreement with Mid-State Special Education agencies of Fayette and Bond counties.

•Approved changes in the student handbooks for the buildings in the district. One change to district policies is that parental requests for teachers will no longer be allowed. The new handbook states: “So that the administration can make the most effective and appropriate instructional placement for all students, Vandalia Community Unit School District 203 does not accept teacher requests.”

• Accepted the planned retirement of Linda Michel (VES and VJPS library aide) on June 31, 2010.

Before the regular board meeting, school board members held a special budget hearing. At that hearing, the amended fiscal year 2008-09 budget was presented and approved.

That budget now shows total revenues of about $12 million and total expenditures of about $11.7 million.

That $300,000 surplus will be added to the $2.2-million surplus that the district had at the beginning of the fiscal year, allowing the district to end the year on June 30 with a surplus of about $2.5 million, according to Superintendent Rich Well.

“This is the third year that we’re going to put money in the bank,” Well said. “General accounting principles say that you should have six months of operating funds in the bank in case an emergency comes up.

“There are a variety of reasons why we want to get a reserve built up, but a major one is that we never know what the state is going to do. With 65 percent of our funding coming from the state, we depend on them.

“But right now, they’re behind on two of their monthly payments. We’re where we are because we’ve watched our expenditures at the local level.”

Lori Meseke, district business manager, agreed that the district’s budget is in “really good shape” as the fiscal year winds down.

“All funds will have a positive balance,” she said. “Everyone in the district has done an awesome job of keeping expenses under control. They are thinking about the expenditures before they spend the money,” Meseke said.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Well reported that Vandalia Junior High School Assistant Principal Brian Holiday will discuss at the July school board meeting the implementation of more than $150,000 in grants to improve technology in most district classrooms.

Included will be smart boards, computers and audio-visual aides.

Well also said that the district calendar for the 2009-10 school year will include registration on Monday, Aug. 10, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Tuesday, Aug. 11, from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. The first day for teachers will be Thursday, Aug. 20, and the first day for students will be Friday, Aug. 21.

In his financial report, Well said that, as of June 9, the district’s total balance stands at $3,566,468 and the operating balance is $3,366,365.

To date, with the fiscal year ending June 30, the budget showed that total revenues were 94 percent of budget, while total expenditures were 90 percent of budget.