School district’s finances still good at halfway point

In a meeting that lasted only 25 minutes, the Vandalia School Board handled several relatively minor items and heard that the district’s finances remain in good shape at the halfway point of the fiscal year.
“We have solid balances in all our accounts,” Superintendent Rich Well told the board, noting that the district has a total balance of $6,393,219 and a balance of $5,013,621 in the four operating accounts.
Six months into the fiscal year, the district has received 58 percent of its anticipated general state aid revenue in the four operating accounts over which it has spending control, while expending 49 percent of the budgeted funds.
In the total revenue picture, the district has received 75 percent of the revenue for the year, and has spent 58 percent.
The categorical payments from the state, however, are a different story.
Well said that the district has not received any categorical monies from the state for the current fiscal year, which began last July 1.
Those payments – for programs such as transportation, special education and school lunches – usually come in four quarterly installments.
Also, no payments have been received from the state for vocational programs.
“We finally did receive all the categorical payments for last fiscal year,” Well said, “but nothing has come in for the current fiscal year.
"By this time in the year, we should’ve received two or maybe three payments.”
One account on the district’s financial report that is out of line with the budget is the Health Life Safety account, which can be used only for projects that address problems with the district’s buildings.
That account has received 72 percent of the budgeted funds, but only 8 percent has been spent, leaving a balance of nearly $320,000.
Well explained that the funds in that account will be distributed soon to pay for work done last fall to replace failing window units at the high school and worn out boilers at the high school and Jefferson Primary School.
“It’s basically an adjustment from one account to another,” Well said.
Currently, the approximately $300,000 in expenses for those projects is shown in the operation and maintenance account.
During his report to the board, Well said that parents of elementary and junior high students who qualify for a free after-school tutoring program will soon be receiving letters in the mail.
Those students will be offered supplemental educational services after school during February to help them achieve better scores on standardized tests.
The two schools are required to offer the service because they didn’t make “adequate yearly progress” on test scores last year. This year’s testing for all students will be conducted in March.
Also planned in early February is the second round of parent-teacher conferences. Those conferences will be held from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 4. No classes will be held that day.
In an effort to help parents of college-bound students access all available financial aid, a FASFA night will be held on Thursday, Jan. 27. A representative from Kaskaskia College will be available to help students and parents fill out the required information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form – the document required by the U.S. Department of Education to determine the family’s part in financing a student’s college education. For more information, call Vandalia Community High School at 283-5155.
In a report from Darrell Fesser, director of the Okaw Area Vocational Center, he noted that OAVC students last year earned 161 dual credit hours with Lake Land Community College and 1,647 dual credit hours with Kaskaskia College.
Well also announced that no qualifying bids were received on the house built this year by the building trades students. The district is now listing the house with local realtors.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the board:
• Approved the second reading of the district’s policy updates.
• Approved the destruction of executive session audio recordings older than 18 months.
• Approved the seniority list of district employees.
• Approved Darin Wells and Tammy Isaiah as volunteer assistant basketball coaches for the sixth-grade teams at Vandalia Junior High School.
School board members Jay Smith and Chris Palmer were absent from the meeting.

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