School district gets first of two state aid payments

After several anxious weeks of waiting for Gov. Rod Blagojevich to release funds for the final two state aid payments of the fiscal year, the Vandalia School District last Friday received the first of those two installments for June.

And the final one should be coming soon, Superintendent Rich Well told the Vandalia Board of Education at its monthly meeting Tuesday.

Those payments, the 23rd and 24th semi-monthly installments of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, amount to $604,000. Without them, Well told The Leader-Union that several academic programs would have been impacted.

This takes a lot of pressure off the people in our district, Well said.

With the funding coming through, that allows us to continue to improve the quality of education were able to deliver to the students updating our textbooks and technology to keep our education going in the right direction.

Were going to end the year in very good financial shape.

In a special meeting before Tuesdays regular meeting, the board approved a resolution to allow the district to proceed with a paving project at the high school, using the remaining Health Life Safety funds approximately $250,000.

That resolution stated that it has been determined that there is substantial, immediate and unavoidable threat to the health, safety and/or welfare of pupils due to disrepair of school sidewalks, playgrounds, parking lots or school bus turnarounds; that all buildings are in compliance and that repairs must be made to said school sidewalks, parking lots or school bus turnarounds.

Well said that the project was made possible because of cost-savings in other Health Life Safety projects being undertaken by the district.

The area to be paved includes the main parking lot immediately west of the school building, as well as the driveway from Eighth Street and the driveway going west toward the city pool.

He said the existing lot would be ground up and compacted before a new asphalt surface is applied.

Part of the reason were doing this is safety both vehicular and people safety, Well said.

Weve gotten so much feedback on the (condition of the) lot. It is a major traffic route for our students, as well as the pool and tennis courts.

Significant holes and ruts have persisted in the lot, particularly in the area of the bus garage where remediation efforts were required due to a leaking underground fuel tank that was discovered several years ago.

The district has advertised for bids for the paving project, and will open those bids on June 30.

Well said that light poles had been included in the parking lot in the original plan, but it doesnt appear at this time that enough funding will be available to include those in this phase of the project.

In a second special meeting before the regular meeting convened, the school board approved three amendments to expense lines in the districts fiscal year 2008 budget. Those changes were:

$110,000 for additional special education costs. When we send students out of our buildings (for special education classes) it costs us for those services, Well said. He noted that more students than anticipated received special education instruction this year.

$200,000 in bond and interest expenses. This was a payment from the 2007 budget year that was made in 2008, Well said.

$85,000 for cleanup and removal of a leaking fuel tank near the bus garage. That work has now been completed, he said.

Even with these additional expenses, were still going to be in the black for our budget, Well said Wednesday morning. We had to amend the budget on the expense side because our expenditures were going to be greater than we anticipated. Our projections werent high enough.

During the regular meeting, the board approved the following coaching positions for the 2008-2009 school year: Andy Whitten as VCHS varsity golf coach, Brian Buscher as VCHS varsity girls softball coach, Jeremy Mosier as VCHS assistant wrestling coach, Diego Gamino as VCHS boys soccer coach, Billie Worker as VCHS football and basketball cheerleading coach, Allison Brown Smith as VCHS head volleyball coach, Jane Bell as VCHS assistant volleyball coach, Jane Bell as VCHS head boys track and field coach, Mark Johnson as sixth grade boys basketball coach, Meg Marquardt as seventh grade girls basketball coach, Jane Bell as seventh grade volleyball coach, and Amber Redman as VCHS girls softball assistant coach.

The board also approved the increase of the hourly pay for field trip bus drivers from $9.55 per hour to $10.75 per hour.

Well also told the board also told the board that next years budget will include money to buy new uniforms for the VCHS band. That funding will be augmented by money from the band boosters.

The board will hold a retreat this Thursday at Ramsey High School at 6:30 p.m.

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