North Putnam Community School Corporation Superintendent Mary Sugg Lovejoy reported that an audit by the State Board of Accounts showed that during the period audited June 30, 2007 to June 30, 2009 the corporation overspent it's appropriations.
"This indicates the corporation was unstable during that time," said Lovejoy.
The school corporation is currently dealing with a $2.5 million deficit.
The greatest deficit is in the General Fund. And, the corporation is down 40 students from last year.
"The general fund is the fund cut by the State and has the most impact," said Lovejoy.
Reductions in Force letters were mailed last month to teachers who are in danger of losing their jobs because of the deficit.
"The RIF step is being taken due to the current financial status of the corporation," said Lovejoy at a previous board meeting. She went on to explain that a great deal of money was borrowed within the last year.
"In January '09, the board was asked to approve $6.7 million in loans. $4.7 million was paid back, but another $3 million was borrowed in June and $1 million in July. We currently owe $2.5 million," said Lovejoy.
Lovejoy added that the corporation's general fund had $900,000, but the transportation fund was $127,000 in debt.
"We lost $500,000 from the enrollment being down. If we do nothing we will end the year at $2.5 to $3 million in debt," she said.
Board meetings have moved to the high school to accommodate the number of people attending them. Community members and teachers stepped forward at Thursday night's meeting to voice their opinions about a new option being looked at by the board--attendance centers.
This would mean a big change in the corporation's elementary schools. All preschool to second grade students would attend Bainbridge and third to fifth graders would all attend school at Roachdale.
"If we are seriously considering changing to attendance centers, we need to take our time and do it correctly," said Lovejoy. "I've dealt with this before in other corporations and it is a very complex problem."
Another issue being considered is capping enrollment numbers.
After a presentation by Assistant Superintendent Kevin Emsweller about changing some bus routes in an attempt to even out the number of students in classes at both schools Lovejoy told the group, "there are no easy answers."
Emsweller presented three options for changing elementary school enrollment through bus routes.
The first option included bus routes five and 18 that include boundaries west of U.S. 231 and north of U.S. 36 south of Russellville.
The second option looked at was bus route 22 on U. S. 36 south of Bainbridge and north of the Groveland area.
The third option includes bus route 28 in the Van Biber area where there is a large concentration of elementary students.
"These are all 'what if's?" said Emsweller. "They are things we are looking at."
Board president Andy Beck added that changing routes would not make enough of a difference.
"The best answer needs to be to really talk about this and we need to make one community, not Bainbridge or Roachdale but a North Putnam community," said Beck.
Lovejoy has asked parents to voluntarily move their elementary children from Bainbridge, which has the higher enrollment and larger classes to Roachdale.
"When looking at these numbers and staff it's not solving a problem (using bus routes to change enrollment numbers). Bainbridge will be overpopulated next year. We really need to look into these attendance centers. It's not a saving venture," said Beck
Capping enrollment at Bainbridge is also a distinct possibility.
"As children move into the area they will have to go to Roachdale," said Lovejoy. This would be dependent upon the class sizes at Bainbridge, which may be as high as 28 and 29 students in some classes next year.
Bainbridge could lose as many as six teachers next year.
Community members have formed a new organization in the wake of hearing about the possible changes to the elementary schools in the corporation.
Treva Burgess with the North Putnam Community Association told the board an earlier meeting of the new group was held.
"The meeting was planned out of fear the two elementary schools were going to be re-organized," said Burgess.
Board member Charlie Boller told the group he attended the meeting after reading about it on the bulletin board at Casey's General Store in Roachdale.
"The last thing I want is 500 people spray painting my house," said Boller who quickly added he was joking.
"Seriously, I found out about the attendance center idea while eating a sandwich at Casey's and decided to go to the meeting," said Boller.
Boller explained to the group that these were all just ideas and no decisions had been made yet.
"These were passed off as an idea not as something passed. The community will not be blindsided. We will listen and participate more," said Boller.
The next meeting of the North Putnam Community Association will be April 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the Bainbridge Christian Church.
"To make all these things work, we really need to work as a team," reiterated Beck. Changing bus routes won't make enough difference. I'll just be blunt," said Beck. "If you have a student drop then you have to look into RIFs."
Parent Sara Owens addressed the board earlier to give them a different perspective.
Owen talked about moving to North Putnam on recommendations from friends.
"We came from a four-star school. Our children were third and fourth grade students when we moved. Our son is autistic. Thanks to this school he is going to college next year," said Owen tearfully.
"Our daughter is entering high school as an honor student next year," she said. "They are much worse schools out there. I just wanted you to hear about a different perspective."
In other business Jackie Simpson was sworn in as the newest school board meeting taking Mark Fordice's place from Russell Township. She was chosen from six candidates to step into the position.
Student Brett Hunter was recognized as being a gold medal state ensemble winner and Laura McGaughey was honored for winning the Rotary Speech Contest.
Summer school plans for 2010 were approved. School will go from June 7 to July 2 and offer five high school courses including drivers education summer band, an agriculture course, remedial English and online classes.
Summer school last year cost the corporation about $10,000. Emsweller told the group that 74% of the cost was reimbursed and the 40 students taking the online class paid for most of it.
The school calendar for 2010-2011 was approved and includes five built-in snow days. Four days were added in April and May and if not used as snow days will provide three-day weekends for students in April.
"These are not guaranteed it will depend on snow," said Beck. "It works for a mild winter. I wonder why we use 10 days for winter break when we could use only seven days," he added.
Beck also mentioned the possibility that a new law will mandate that school start in September next year and be out in June.
"It might be law next year," he said.
Good news came in the form of a new $30,000 swim timing system acquired from a school that was discarding it.
"We were able to get it for $3,000 and that was all paid by sponsorship money," said Athletic Director Jason Simms
North Putnam High School Assistant Principal Jason Chew told the group that as a result of a community effort that has been ongoing a new after school tutoring program is in place.
"Over a year ago a group of people came together who wanted to help kids. People came from all over the community. Some groups, like churches, splintered off to offer their own programs and that's good. But, one idea was for us to offer after school tutoring and that is going to happen beginning March 30," said Chew.
After school tutoring will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30-5:30 p.m. It is free and will be taught in the high school media center by volunteers. Persons interested in the program can contact Ann Hazelgrove at 522-6282.
Volunteers like Charlie Boller will help in numerous areas including providing rides home for students who need them.
Classified personnel changes approved included the following: Judy Skinner, transportation for a medical leave and the resignation of Debbie Welch at the middle school as a laundry aide.
Extra-curricular changes include the employment of Kyle Everts at NPMS as boys' assistant track coach, Greg Lyons as NPHS assistant baseball coach and Ashley Cook as NPHS assistant girls' track coach.
Resignations were accepted from Josh Stigall and Gene Winings as NPMS assistant wrestling coaches.
The next meeting of the North Putnam Community School board will be April 15 at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium.