Auditor says school district doing good job of handling expenses

For the second year in a row, the Vandalia Board of Education on Tuesday received a positive report from the accounting firm that conducts the district’s financial audit.

Joe Barth, representing Luallen, Cearlock and Barth Certified Public Accountants, told the board that “the school district is doing a good job in budgeting. Not one account was over in expenses; you have a good handle on your costs.”

Barth said that the district’s operational expense per pupil is in line with other area districts. He also noted that the district’s education fund balance showed an increase of more than $1 million over last year. That, he said, was due to money coming in from the sale of the Bresee property, from state aid payments that were paid in full and from a $400,000 drop in expenses.

The district’s overall financial profile score was 3.15, which is the same as last year. Two years ago, it was a different story – with the district’s score of 1.75 landing it on the state’s financial watch list.

That rating is compiled by scoring the district in five areas of financial performance: fund balance to revenue ratio, expenditures to revenue ratio, days cash on hand, percent of short-term borrowing maximum remaining and percent of long-term debt margin remaining.

Vandalia Superintendent of Schools Rich Well said he was pleased with the audit results.

“We’ve had an exceptionally good audit for two years in a row,” Well said.

“We evaluated all of our expenditures and determined whether they served an educational purpose. We’ve reorganized several areas, based on our needs.

‘It’s involved everyone throughout the district.”

During the portion of the school board meeting set aside for reports from building principals, most of the discussion centered on the “report card” results related to district students’ performance on standardized tests.

Well noted that the district’s Adequate Yearly Progress report shows the district meeting the standard in all areas – except for a subgroup of students with disabilities. He said that several initiatives have been undertaken to respond to score deficits or needs within the district.

As a part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, students in grades 3-8 are tested annually using the ISAT test and eleventh graders are tested using the Prairie State Achievement Evaluation.

District administrators and teachers currently are studying the results of the examinations and are planning responses in areas needing improvement.

A detailed summary of those test results will be printed in future issues of The Leader-Union.

Well also noted that parent-teacher conferences are scheduled next Thursday and Friday at Jefferson Primary School and Vandalia Elementary School. Conferences will be held from 3-6 p.m. on Thursday and noon-3 p.m. on Friday.

He also announced that the school board will hold a retreat from 7-9 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 3.

Also planned is a trivia night, sponsored by the Vandalia Community Schools Foundation.

The Nov. 15 event will feature 10-person teams competing for cash prizes. Funds raised by the event will be given to the foundation.

In other business, the board:

• Approved its annual agreement with the Okaw Area Vocational Center.

• Authorized a resolution to sell two lots in the Staff Subdivision.

Those lots had been purchased about 10 years ago as sites for building trades houses, but Well said that the smaller houses now being built by the building trades classes no longer fit the subdivision specifications.

• Approved the transfer of VCHS Spanish teacher Beth Kern to a position called VCHS guidance/student services, effective at the start of the 2009-10 school year.

• Approved the resignation of student council sponsors Lori Meseke and Jaime Michel.

Absent from Tuesday’s meeting was school board representative Tammy Woolsey.

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