School Board approves 2008 budget; new fire alarm system set for SCES

281

The Switzerland County School Board officially approved its 2008 budget on Monday night, approving a budget that has already been through a public hearing and a special meeting.

Taking each category individually, the board approved the general fund, capital improvements fund, debt service fund, transportation fund, bus replacement fund, and special education fund without comment. Superintendent Tracy Caddell reminded the board that the capital projects, bus replacement, and transportation funds had already been approved at the board’s special meeting on Thursday, September 20th, so Monday’s meeting was simply a confirmation on what they had already done.

The special meeting was made necessary because of a glitch in the state legislature, which moved the date back for approval of school budgets to September 30th, but forgot to include those three funds in the final legislative language – making those three subject to the previous September 20th deadline.

Superintendent Caddell also noted that the school corporation would again ask the Switzerland County School Endowment Corporation to pay for the debt service portion of the budget – saving county landowners on their property taxes.

“If you’ve got a home worth $100,000, you’re looking at a savings of $250-$300 because of the endowment corporation paying the debt service,” the superintendent said. “That’s significant for the people of this county.”

He also noted that the budget being approved was merely the budget that will be sent to the state, and that state officials will pare the budget down, lowering the actual rate below the advertised rate.

The school board also approved a bid from Stapleton Electric Company of Cleves, Ohio for the installation of a new fire alarm system at Switzerland County Elementary School. The bid was for $95,790; and is being funded through the endowment corporation.

The need for a new fire alarm system came to the attention of school officials during the fire marshall’s annual inspection prior to the start of the school year. The school passed the inspection and the current system is working, but there was a concern that the system would have to be replaced in the near future, so the school administrators decided to replace it before it failed.

The school board was told that the winning company would get a letter to proceed the following day so that it could start ordering the necessary parts; and officials from the architectural firm of Schmitt Associates said that they expected work to begin in the next four to six weeks, with the new system in place and working by mid-December.

It was noted that the current system will remain in place and active during the construction; and that workers will be in the building beginning at 3 p.m. each day and working during the evening, so the school day should not be disrupted for the kids.

The school board also approved four projects to be sent to the endowment corporation for consideration of funding.

– A request for a variety of new furniture and supplies for Switzerland County High School in the amount of $7,500 was approved. This will include desks, chairs, and white boards.

– The school board again approved asking the endowment corporation to pay the debt service portion of the school’s tax rate. That total, estimated at $593,606, was approved at the endowment meeting on Tuesday night.

– The board approved by a 6-1 vote a request to pay for a heating system in the new activity building that was build by the softball field. The request was for $3,000. Board member Jim Phipps voted against the measure, saying that he had nothing against the plan or the building, but said that this had been a cooperative project since it started, partnering endowment funds and private contributions, and he wanted to see how those private contributions came in before he voted to approve more school funding.

– A request to replace carpeting in three classrooms in Switzerland County Middle School, along with the carpeting in one of the portable classrooms, was approved by a 6-0-1 vote, with board member Wayne Daugherty abstaining from the vote. The cost of the carpet is $8,693.

*

In other business of the school board:

– “Switzerland County Area Youth” made a presentation to the board about their work to raise money to help build wells in the country of Kenya. The group, made up mainly of students from Switzerland County High School, has already paid for the drilling of one well in that country, and are now working on paying for a second well.

The presentation was made to inform the school board about the work of students in their corporation, and no request for funds was made.

– The school board officially accepted a donation of 26 books and a teacher’s edition to be used in a career class at the middle school.

– Board member Virgil McKay updated the board on the internal controls policy. The draft policy has been sent to the State Board of Accounts for its suggestions and approval, and once those items are addressed, it is hoped that the board will be able to approve the plan.

He distributed the draft document to board members, and asked them to read it and make any suggestions for revisions by October 1st.

– Things got a bit heated during public comments, when Earl Holmes told the school board that he could not get any cooperation from high school principal Candis Haskell or superintendent Tracy Caddell concerning threats of harm aimed at his daughter.

Earl Holmes, a contract bus driver for the corporation, told the board that the superintendent had threatened his job during a meeting, a contention that Tracy Caddell immediately refuted, saying that he hadn’t spoken to Earl Holmes in several weeks, other than a brief discussion a few days before.

School attorney Ron Hocker told Earl Holmes that the school board or the administration would not discuss issues dealing with students in a public meeting, and asked board president Andy Truitt to schedule an executive session to hear Earl Holmes’ concerns.

– In personnel matters: Kyle Jolly was hired at the freshman girls basketball coach; a leave of absence was approved for middle school teacher Tara Justice; and a continued leave of absence was granted for Jefferson-Craig teacher Angie Todd.

– Professional leave requests and use of facilities requests were approved as presented.