The Eudora School Board met on Thursday to discuss the latest issues facing the School District.
The most substantive discussion of the evening centered on proposed budget cuts. Kristin Magette updated the Board on public input received online. Suggestions ranged from elimination of specific positions and services to additional fees for activities or meals. Superintendent Don Grosdidier reminded the Board of the four values identified as key district success, including early childhood, teacher collaboration, small class size, and personalized education. He then outlined proposed cuts before the legislature with varying effects ranging from a loss of $317,000 to more than $703,000. This last and most extreme loss was proposed in part by local representative Anthony Brown. Grosdidier reported discussing the issue of school funding with Representative Brown by phone and finding “we are so far apart on our basic beliefs on this. . . . This is a quality of life issue.”
Grosdidier itemized proposed adjustments to the budget which incorporated inclusion of a carryover of approximately $150,000 from the current budget, lease of West Elementary, reduction of some one time expenses totaling $120.000, and proposed budget cuts in the areas of facility-related expenses and programs and staffing, resulting in a budget reduction of $1,373,344.74. Staff reductions were recommended on the basis of principals’ analysis and input at the school level, as well as attrition. Grosdidier outlined the effects of staff reduction on the number of electives at the middle school level as well as increases in class size in the elementary school. Class size formerly ranged from 17 to 20 pupils; under the new structure, class size would range from 20 to 25 students in the elementary school.
Grosdidier provided data related to proposed fee options, ranging from instructional and activity fees to fees for all day kindergarten. He specifically advised against transportation fees which he felt compromised student safety. The Board expressed distaste for instituting new fees while increasing class size and reducing staffing, characterizing this as a “double whammy.” The Board voted to affirm fees for all day Kindergarten at $250/semester and to utilize these funds to reinstate one of the eliminated kindergarten teaching positions. They voted to leave all other fees at current levels.
Grosdidier also updated the Board as to legislative matters. He reported that House Bill 2191, pertaining to voluntary extension of tenure clocks, and House Bill 2194, related to contributions to retirement, had both passed. He also reported that the House and Senate were close to agreement on a $14 billion cut to education, or a 5 -6 percent across-the-board reduction. He also reported that the Westboro Baptist Church plans to demonstrate at this year’s high school graduation. He suggested that the demonstration will have little effect on a ceremony which is “after all, about the kids, and nothing else.”
In other business, the Board renewed certified and supplemental staff positions, approved leasing Nottingham and Laws field to the city, draft of 10th and Main Street facility demolition agreement, and the Greenbush contract.
Three Eudora Middle School students were recognized at Thursday evening’s school board meeting. Abigail Jackson, Jordan Vaughn, and Tucker Gabriel were awarded certificates for their performance on the ACT exam, a college entrance exam normally taken by high school seniors. All performed at a high level of academic excellence. Jackson and Gabriel also received state recognition, and Jackson qualified for the Academy of Summer Studies.
The Board approved asphalt and concrete repair work across the district, awarding the contract to America Marking and Paving, contingent upon a final walk-through with district personnel. The bid of $98,667.37 came in below the district’s estimation of over $119,000 and was well below competitor bids.
Ron Long recognized two technical staff members, Becky White and Aaron Evans, for their contributions to technology services. He summarized the year’s technology services performance and highlighted concerns about future needed improvements. These include expansion of server capacity, revisiting relationship with Apple, addressing outmoded backup systems, and consideration of Open Source software and cloud computing.