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Budget surplus at I-S

District may have extra $75,000 in 2016-17

By Holly Neumann

The Iola-Scandinavia School Board discussed the possibility of a budget surplus during their regular scheduled meeting held on Monday, May 8.

Finance Chairperson Bob Fredy gave a report on the updates, review and adjustments for the 2016-17 budget.

“We have some good news here,” said Fredy. “It is likely that we are going to have some year end funds available for the 2016-17 school year.”

Fredy noted that the committee has targeted some expenses that they can prepay for the 2017-18 school year.

“Chromebooks being one, as we still owe $70,000,” he said. “We are also considering moving some referendum projects into the general budget to free up some capital projects money down the line.

“Lastly, we set up a long range maintenance plan (fund 46) a few years ago,” he said. “We have been putting $2,500 for the first two years, this is another option. We as a board have to decide how we want to end the year.”

He stated that they will know more in June.

“Right now we have $62,000 going into fund balance at the end of the year,” said Business Manager Sarah Thiel. “There is a potential of having about $75,000 in unspent funds. There are some projects that we can remove from the referendum, but I think that prepaying chrome books is still the best option.”

Board policy states that the fund balance should be between 25 percent and 30 percent. Currently the balance is higher than that.

“It might make sense for us to look at our fund balance amounts and designate or target specific fund balance dollars to purchasing new chrome books in the future,” said Thiel. “And consider contributing the balance into fund 46 and target that money for projects down the road.”

The district would have to spend this year’s budgeted amounts by June 30.

Fredy also looked ahead to 2017-18 budget.

“With the passing of the $650,000 referendum, if the state budget comes through, we are looking at not having to levy the whole amount, so we can be fiscally sound,” Fredy said.

Base pay salary increases for the staff will also be looked at for the 2017-18 school year.

Shannon Huettner, the at-risk teacher at I-S, gave a presentation on the credit recovery program Odysseyware.

The program will help students that have failed classes or are behind in credits.

“We have not had a credit recovery program in our district,” Huettner said. “This is going to be a great tool for our at risk students to get them on track for graduating.”

The program will coincide with the summer school program.

“It will work on a first come, first serve basis,” she said. “We will first look at students that will be seniors next year, then start the ones that need it the most. This will give them hope that they can still come to school and be successful and get a diploma from Iola-Scandinavia High School.”

Teachers Cari Honken and Kristen Bertsch presented the board with information on the schoolwide Title One program.

Title One is a federal program that provided funds for academic support for students that have the most needs in reading and math. In the past, the money the district received could only be used for the students identified as having the greatest needs.

“We have been working really closely with Literacy Specialist from CESA 6 and the DPI to transition from a targeted Title One program to a school wide program,” said Honken.

With a schoolwide program all the students in the building will benefit because resources can be shared and used by all teachers. The focus will be on all teachers supporting all students.

Bertsch and Honken worked together to developed a plan, through a year-long process.

“We looked at assessment data and surveyed parents, students and teachers to see where our needs were,” said Bertsch. “One focus will be increasing parent communication regarding their child’s progress. The second will be closing the achievement gap between our economically disadvantaged students and our non-economically disadvantaged students.”

Some of the components addressed in the plan include making sure that the district’s teachers and educational assistants are of high quality, providing ongoing professional development, attracting and retaining high quality teachers, increasing family engagement and ensuring smooth transitions for students between grade levels and buildings.

“This is an ongoing process that will be re-evaluated yearly,” Bertsch said. “All teachers will be supporting all students.”

Everything will remain the same for students already receiving Title One services.

In other business, Kathy Meyer-Blum nominated the entire school board and their families for the Star Award for the month.

“Thank you board members for your dedication to our students and community during difficult times,” read an email from Meyer-Blum. “An even bigger thank you to the families who have made many personal sacrifices when their loved ones have spent countless hours away from home.”

The next meeting of the board of education will take place on June 12.

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