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Monday, May 2, 2016

State control of general fund helping city's schools

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Superintendent Robert Green had a mix of good and bad financial news for board members at Wednesday night's regular meeting of the Greencastle School Board.

On the bright side, the general fund is looking healthy, and the school will not need to take out any loans for the general fund this year.

"For the first time in a long time, we're starting to see signs of a turnaround," Green said.

He attributed this to a pair of factors. First of all, the corporation has been working hard to make cuts in spending in recent months. Secondly, though, is the state's decision to take over control of the general fund. In the past, tax draws from the county have come late, and the school corporation had to borrow money to make to the arrival of the tax money.

Now the state gets the money to the schools monthly and on time.

"I'll also give the governor some credit for the general fund. We get it on time since the state has taken over," Green said.

However, the change does not apply to other funds such as capital improvements, transportation or debt service. These still come from county tax draws and are still likely to arrive late.

"When we don't get our tax draws on time, we have to borrow money. When you borrow $10 to 15 or 20 million a year, you can imagine what the interest on that is," Green said.

"I don't know what our 2009 budget is going to be. If you recall, it was September before we knew our 2008 budget," he added.

The board approved a measure for the corporation to advertise for additional appropriations of $40,000 from the rainy day fund to pay for the early retirement package that was approved earlier this year.

One source of income for the school could also be the sale of two buses. With the consolidation of routes earlier this year, the board declared two buses to be surplus at the meeting. They will be put up for sale to other school systems in the state.

One item that got a lot of attention was a proposal from Eric Vaughn of the Greencastle Golden Knights semipro football team. The Knights are seeking the use of Harbison Stadium for their upcoming season.

The season will run from July to October and would require five home games at the stadium if approved.

The board's chief concerns surround wear and tear to the football field, insurance issues and custodial staffing.

Board member Jack Berry expressed his concern that the field will not be able to handle the additional load and possibly have adverse effects on the GHS football team.

"When we built the soccer field, it was to alleviate double pressure on that football field," Berry said. "That's my biggest thing -- how it's going to affect our programs."

Board president Michael Dean seemed more open to the idea, but insisted that a contract would need to be drawn up and that it would be up to school officials involved in the maintenance and athletic departments whether it was too wet to play on the field.

"It looks like you guys have done your homework, and I think it would be neat for the community to have this," Dean said. "I think it would be a good idea for us to have a contract."

School attorney Robert Rund agreed to look into writing up a contract with the Knights for the board's review later this month. The issue is tabled until the contract is presented.

Vaughn expressed his organization's willingness to work with the school regarding this issue.

"I'm playing by your rules," he said. "We're willing to do anything you guys want us to do to clean that place up. I went to Greencastle and played on that field. I respect the facility. Once a Tiger Cub, always a Tiger Cub."

The board also approved an Algebra I remediation plan for the high school. Under the new system, anyone who achieves a C or better in the course but does not pass the end of course assessment will be enrolled in a one-semester Algebra I remediation course the following year. The students will, however, also move on to geometry.

The issue has emerged because students must now pass the end of course assessment as part of their state graduation requirement. Under the new system, the students will receive the training they need to pass the test while also moving toward a diploma by continuing on to geometry.

Additionally, any students received a D or F will be required to retake Algebra I.

Among the personnel items were the retirements of long time teachers Kathy Jones as a high school social studies teacher and Jon Stark as a high school teacher at the alternative school, effective at year's end.

"We want to thank them for their service to kids and wish them well in the future," Green said.

Green also expressed his concern over the enrollment numbers at Area 30. Pre-enrollment is up 20 students for next year, which is good, but state funding for the program is slated to go down $40,000. Green said the board may need to look into limiting enrollment at the vocational school.

The Greencastle Community School Board meets at 7:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month in the Miller Education Center.

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