GREENCASTLE -- The news isn't getting any better for the financial situations of Indiana's public schools.
At Wednesday's meeting of the Greencastle Community School Board, Superintendent Dr. Bob Green presented the board with a memorandum from Lance V. Rhodes, Chief Financial Officer of the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE).
Rhodes' letter said funding levels have not yet been determined for calendar year 2011, but that schools should expect cuts similar in percentage to those experienced in 2010.
"We would recommend schools beginning the 2011 budgeting process assume levels that represent percentage reductions similar to the 2010 reductions," Rhodes wrote. "At any rate, IDOE and OMB (Office of Management and Budget) would encourage schools to budget cautiously and conservatively in case state revenue collections do not improve in CY2010."
Green said the news is not encouraging, but the process will be monitored.
"That's not good news, and we'll be watching that very closely," he said.
The corporation was able to cut $472,000 from its 2010 budget without a reduction in teaching force.
GCSC Safety Coordinator Shawn Gobert was back in front of the board on the matter of exterior control systems for corporation's five school buildings and McAnally Center.
Last month, Gobert got permission from the board to continue pursuing the matter, and has since found a lower bid with better options.
Under the plan, each of the six buildings would have a video monitoring system for the main entrance. When a visitor comes to the entrance, he or she would have to hit a button, which would send a call to the phones in the building office.
A school official (likely a secretary or administrator) could then check the monitor, which would be mounted at face level, to make sure the person can be allowed in.
They could then be granted or denied access.
Each school would have to have electric strikes for doors, call boxes and either an indoor (for each of the five schools) or outdoor (McAnally) camera.
The system comes at a cost of $12,057.50 in a bid from Tim Gould of Closed Circuit Audio and Video. This compares to the original proposal from Sonitrol, which would have cost $11,600 for video in only three of the buildings.
With $2,179 from the Safe and Drug Free Grant, this would bring the cost to the corporation down to $9,878.50 from the capital projects technology fund.
Board members expressed concerns including the ongoing cost of upkeep of the systems and the continued possibility of security breach.
Gobert said these could always be issues, but the system accomplishes what they set out to do.
"It secures every building. It locks them down like we're wanting to," Gobert said.
He also said the system could be upgraded if the corporation later sees fit.
"It is something we can build on. It's not a bandaid," Gobert said.
All five building principals were in attendance and said they were on board.
"At TZ, you can be in a classroom within maybe 10 steps," Tzouanakis Principal Dan TeGrotenhuis said. "It's pretty scary that you can look down and someone can be in. I don't think that we can afford to not take this seriously. You don't want to get somebody taken. We don't want to defend that."
Green also voiced his support.
"We're concerned about spending everywhere, but this is very reasonable in my opinion," he said.
The measure passed by a 3-2 vote, with Kelly Lewis and Barbara Bryan objecting.
TZ Assistant Principal Tamra Walker presented changes to the Accepting the Challenge of Excellence (ACE) Program for the upcoming school year. While the plan was approved with only minor changes, more of the talk centered on cuts to the ACE budget.
Like so many other education programs, the state plans to cut ACE funding by 10 to 30 percent in 2010-11. Walker said with as much as $10,000 cut from the $33,924 budget, she recommended the program continue to fund the three instructional assistants and TZ, Ridpath and Deer Meadow. These salaries currently take up $26,184 of the budget.
Board member Jack Berry expressed concern over the cutting of funding for academic coaches. Walker said she was not suggesting cutting any of the other funded projects, simply finding other ways to fund them.
The board also had a number of reasons to be happy at Wednesday's meeting, as several students and teachers were honored for the accomplishments.
The meeting opened with a reception for the Tzouanakis Math Bowl Team, which was the state champion for its division.
The reception also honored GHS senior Hilary Schroeder, who was named an Indiana Academic All Star.
The GMS Math Bowl team also placed fourth in the state in its division.
During the meeting, the board recognized teachers Amanda York, Kyla Dixon and Susan Gillen for their completion of comprehensive intervention model training. Amanda Standers has also taken part in the training and should complete it this month.
GCSC energy coordinator Mike Schimpf presented the board with the Greencastle Sustainability Commission's Green Organization of the Year award, which he and Green accepted at a meeting last Thursday.
"It was a nice way to say 'Good job, way to go' to the whole school corporation," Schimpf said.
The board also approved 54 personnel items, including the retirement of Ridpath Principal Janice True, Corporation Bookstore Manager Gwen Hutchings and custodian Loretta Pierson.
"We want to wish those folks well and thank them for their dedication to children," Green said.
The board also gave tentative approval to a teacher contract for the 2010-11 school year. The agreement will be official if teachers vote in favor of it on Monday.
The teachers have been working without a contract for the last two years.
"It's been tough all the way around, but we did come to an agreement," Green said.