Like many other local government entities, the Greencastle Community School Corp. is feeling a pinch due to the late distribution of local tax revenue.
Superintendent Bob Green told the school board Wednesday the corporation has collected only about $1 million of the expected $11 million. They hope to collect at least half the total by the end of December and the rest after the first of the year.
However, to prepare for the shortfall in funds, the corporation presented a plan to sell outstanding warrants to local banks. This move would extend the date the school corporation needs to pay the money from Dec. 31 to June 30, 2009.
"We're doing all we can to prepare for the lack of funds we anticipate by the end of the year," Green said. "Until we get our full tax draws, it's not a pretty picture, at least not on paper."
After approving the financial statement, the board also approved the plan to sell the warrants to the banks.
Another problem will come in 2009, as the corporation will have to explain to the state the source of the extra revenue, even though it is actually late revenue from this year.
Green also got the board's approval to hire a consultant to help the system streamline its transportation system. The consultant will meet with Green, transportation supervisor Dan Green and the principals to get a feel for the corporation's needs.
Afterward, he will prepare a plan to make the bus routes more efficient. The process will cost the corporation $3,200 and could annually save between 6 and 8 percent of the $800,000 transportation budget.
"If we could make savings and still have the same number of students picked up, that's what we're after," Green said.
The board discussed the rising costs of special education through the Old National Trail Cooperative. Green explained that the state's budget for special needs students is based upon the number of such students in a district. While what GCSC pays to ONT is also based on the number of students in the program, the corporation's costs have gone up even though its number of students has gone down.
GHS senior Ashton Marshall spoke to the board about the school's Diversity Council. The council was suggested by principal Jim Church at the beginning of the year and currently has 60 students involved.
"I felt strongly there was a need," Marshall said. "I saw students getting disrespected and saw this as a chance to make a difference."
The purpose of the council is essentially to promote awareness of issues in the school regarding any student who might be picked on or otherwise disrespected for any number of reasons including race, gender, sexuality or religion.
Marshall was in attendance essentially to speak to the board about the council's existence and purpose.
"We can make a difference. A lot of people are watching what they say and are acting differently," Marshall said.
Later in the meeting, the board approved a proposal from Church to amend the GHS discipline procedure as it applies to matters regarding diversity.
Under the new plan, students who make comments that might be considered intolerant could appear before a student Civility Panel. The idea is that having to deal with peers on these issues could be more of a deterent than punishment from administrators.
"We can't dictate this as administrators, but the student can increase awareness," Church said.
In other business:
* The board approved the addition of $20,000 to the special education budget to get the program through the end of the calendar year.
* The board approved the purchase of a new special needs bus from Midwest Transit at the cost of $48,406.
* GHS teacher Khristen Phillips presented a presentation on the school's "One Book, One School" program. This year's selection is From the Bottom Up by Chad Pregracke.
Activities tied in to the program have already included a creek clean up. Planned activities include another clean up, a tree giveaway, a field trip to the Ohio River and even a convocation with Pregracke himself in the spring.
* Approved 18 different personnel issues.