South Putnam School Superintendent Bruce Bernhardt had good news to announce to parents and board members during a special school board meeting held Wednesday evening to discuss proposed 2008 budgets.
Bernhardt announced that the school corporation was able to save about $20,000 by purchasing and deferring payment on three school buses for 2008. The supplier who sold three buses to the corporation this year offered three additional buses at the same price with payment deferred until the 2008 budget.
"If we wait until 2008, there are new pollution controls which increases the cost of each bus up $5,000 - $7,000. We had the opportunity to save $15,000 - 20,000 on buses and took it. And, we will get them sometime this fall," reported Bernhardt.
Buses generally last about 10 years and three buses are replaced each year on a rotation basis.
"We thought it was a positive thing to do and helps us keep our fleet updated," added Bernhardt.
"It's important that we look at some of the things you can do to eliminate costs but still be able to purchase what you need," commented board member Darwyn Nelson.
"Saving $20,000 is the bottom line," added Board President Mike Rissler.
With only four members in the audience there were only a few questions that were quickly addressed by Bernhardt and the board about the proposed budget. Bernhardt did remind the audience that the numbers advertised in the newspaper are inflated numbers to make sure there is enough money in the budget 18 months out.
"Until assessed valuation comes in we don't know what the tax assessment will be. Last year we didn't receive the official budget until April," reported Bernhardt.
Some discussion took place regarding how far along the technology network that will supply communication between buildings and allow broadband access for Fillmore and Reelsville Elementary Schools. Currently the schools only have a one line dial-up connection.
Bernhardt reported that concrete for the towers has been poured and is nearly dry. The towers for this project are being paid through a one million dollar technology loan taken out by the corporation several years ago.
When a parent asked about being able to access grades on line board member Nancy Wells replied, "It's a very expensive program and it's not in the near future because we can't afford it right now."
Suggestions were made that some parents had offered to write a grade-viewing program. Board members discussed some concern with security issues and compatibility for a program written by student families. Bernhardt asked the parents to talk with him further after the meeting.
Rissler commented, "We're always interested in any way parents can help."
In other business:
* Bernhardt announce that Friday is count day and the school numbers are close to being were they were last year.
"I don't want to project them but they may be down a little bit but nothing like the loss we had last year which was pretty traumatic," he added.
* Announced ISTEP tests will begin in late September.
* Announced that school start times at Central Elementary and the High School will begin and end ten minutes later beginning Monday, September 10. This is to allow High School students to have enough time to get from the buses at the elementary schools to their lockers and classrooms on time.
* Board members complimented staff and students on their positive handling of the staph infection incident with Tri West High School football game last week.
Bernhardt stated, "we are concerned about our students here more than what Tri West felt. We listened to our health officials. I'm happy to say we have had no confirmed cases of staph infection here."
* Commended teachers for doing an excellent job with the Taste of South Putnam gala.
* Accepted resignations from Martha Scott and Annette Hull both from the high school.
* Approved certified new hires of Kristen Rissler, Reelsville and Catherine Stockwell, at the High School.
* Approved classified new hires of Jacoba Ballard, Reelsville, Anne Marie Bunton and Kelly Urton, at the High School.
* Also approved Old National Trail (ONT) Instructional Assistants Deanna Bratcher and Gail Sutche for Central Elementary and high school Instructional Assistants Pat Stitzle and Lisa Mendenhall from ONT.
* The board also approved extra curricular positions for the year.
The South Putnam School Board regularly meets on the third Monday of the month in the bandroom at Central Elementary School at 7 p.m.