School board OKs amended budget

The Vandalia Board of Education approved on Tuesday an amended budget that reflects, among other things, building projects associated with the relocation of some of the district’s younger students.
The amended budget, as presented by district Business Manager Lori Meseke, includes renovations made to Vandalia Elementary School and Vandalia Junior High School, as well as the construction of a new maintenance building.
The school board voted in January to transfer kindergarten and first-grade students from Jefferson Primary School to Vandalia Elementary School, and to move fourth-graders from VES to the junior high.
Through that plan, pre-kindergarten students remain at JPS, and the district is leasing some rooms in the building to the Regional Office of Education.
The renovation work on VES and VJHS to accommodate the new students at those schools is costing about $620,000. The renovations are to be completed by July 1, with “severe penalties” if the work is not done by that time.
The district is also constructing a new storage facility on School Street, just east of the high school, on a lot that formerly housed a building used by the Okaw Area Vocational Center.
With the money expended for renovations, Meseke said, the district’s auditor recommended that the district establish a temporary capital improvements fund, which was another reason for amending the budget.
Other reasons, Meseke said, include the recent issuance of general obligation bonds and expenditures to Cornerstone Academy being larger than expected when the budget was drafted.
Meseke told board members that the cost per student at Cornerstone is $40,000-$50,000, so even one student means a significant change in the district finances.
Cornerstone Academy serves students with intensive special needs.
Prior to action on the amended budget, Superintendent Rich Well said that the district is not required to approve amended budgets, but it’s done to clean up the district fund balances.
Also, he said, that when the state decides on reimbursements, it looks more positively on districts in which everything is classified properly.
Well and Meseke said that the district’s budget is based on receiving four categoricals payments from the state during the fiscal year. To date, it has received three.
Well said it’s likely that the district will get the fourth payment, but not until shortly after the end of the current fiscal year.
At the regular meeting on Tuesday, Well reported that the district has developed a traffic flow pattern for VES and VJHS, and that the district will hold meetings at the schools to explain that pattern.
Also at the meeting:
• Well reported that the district is “about where it needs to be on expenses” under the current budget and that “we will be pretty close to budget,” again noting that the district is still waiting for its fourth and final categoricals payment from the state.
• The board approve breakfast and lunch prices for the coming school year.
The prices are:
-K-3 – breakfast, $1.50 daily and $7.50 weekly; and lunch, $2.25 daily and $11.25 weekly.
-4-12 – breakfast, $1.50 daily and $7.50 weekly; and lunch, $2.50 daily and $12.50 weekly.
Extra milk is 35 cents, extra entrée is $1.25 and adult entrée is $2.70.

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