It was a long meeting for the North Putnam School Board on Thursday as it begins to prepare for the upcoming school year.
The school has finally decided to move forward with paving projects, which will occur at Roachdale Elementary, Bainbridge Elementary and North Putnam High School.
All parking lots in the corporation are in pretty bad shape, however due to timing and financial factors the paving will not be as extensive as it really should be.
The board made the decision, based on price, to hire John Allen of City Paving for the project, which will have a total cost of $85,000.
Roachdale will have its entrances and exits worked on, Bainbridge will have five major areas, including where the buses turn, and the high school will have about eight spots.
"We can fund that," explained Superintendent Dan Noel. "All the work we'd be doing is just to get us by. We'll have to re-look at this again in the spring."
The project is extending to next year due to the time constraints of school starting.
All paving projects are expected to be completed before the first day of school.
Marvin Ward, a financial consultant, presented results from the financial review the board hired him to complete some months ago.
He discussed a number of topics with the board.
After reviewing the budget Ward had nothing but good things to report.
"You're in very good shape," said Ward. "Tanya (Pearson) has done an exceptional job."
Ward went over audits, projections and balances with Pearson, the corporation accountant, over the past few weeks and made sure everything was checked.
"You're very stable, especially when it comes to other schools," explained Ward. "The stability of your budget this year means you shouldn't even have to tap into the rainy day fund."
As the board will begin making next year's budget in the coming weeks, legislation is extremely important. Ward offered advice on this as well.
"Advertise high and safe," said Ward. "You can always reduce but you can't ever increase."
Due to several legislation changes, there will be two student count dates this year and a new formula. Ward, however, expected this ruling to change within the coming months.
The board, as per Ward's suggestion, may soon be looking into taking legal action against those who do not pay their textbook rental fees.
According to Ward, the school corporation can now represent itself in court, avoiding legal fees and extra costs.
The corporation can only represent itself in cases up to $1,500. This may be a better alternative than sending complaints to a collection agency, as it is likely the corporation would not receive all the money.
"It's a very helpful process," Ward said. "People will act quicker when you suggest taking legal action."
Although it is allowed by law for the school board to represent itself, the corporation will have to investigate if it will be allowed by local judges.
With most of the budget being no worry, the transportation fund is one area Ward urged the board to watch closely.
Adding bus routes, an option the board has explored, may take this fund to the edge, Ward said.
"It's stable but of concern," Ward said. "I would urge caution when adding routes."
However, in the grand scheme of things the budget is in excellent shape.
The board will continue to look into purchasing three new buses.
During this month's meeting, members seemed to favor purchasing three buses: two regular transportation buses and one with a lift.
Each bust costs $78,369, and the lift is $20,000. Additional money is added for cameras.
Noel pointed out that in previous years items like these were needed and not purchased.
Board member Charlie Boller also recommended adding seatbelts, which Noel will investigate before next month's meeting.
The total cost for the buses, without adding seatbelts, will be $258,039.
Nearly $6,500 will be received by trading in older models.
If the school corporation were to purchase the buses there would be $75,859 left in the transportation budget. Noel suggested using this money to buy spare parts and tires.
The board decided to table the purchasing of the buses until next month.
Noel also suggested locking in fuel prices as the corporation uses around 37,000 gallons of gas per semester.
With the amount gasoline prices fluctuate, Noel believes they may pay less by buying in bulk ahead of time.
"All I'm asking is for us to get the best possible price for fuel," said Noel. "The problem is that we have to act quickly."
Many members expressed their desire to keep buying on the open market like they have been, but the board agreed to advertise for bids to make sure.
A number of other routine items were approved during Thursday night's meeting, including advertising for property and casualty insurance bids, approval for swim lesson rates for August, keeping all-sport pass prices the same as last year, and approving new software in all libraries to support the new Microsoft platform.
The board also agreed to renew its license for Project Lead the Way as well as upgrade computer memory in order to be able to run the software for the program. The total cost for the upgrade is $1,342. The software itself is a $3,195 cost.
Several personnel issues were addressed and approved during the meeting.
High school guidance counselor Lauren Alspaugh, Special Education Teacher Holly Kiger and middle school teacher Ron Price were approved for medical leave.
The hiring of teacher Denise Davies and new band director Matthew Wargel were also approved.
Many football-coaching volunteer positions were also passed by the board, which will be filled by Tom Barker, Patrick Burke, Mike Collins, Kyle Everts, Oliver Haste, Jeff Rudes and Shane Vandeveer.
The resignations of Jonathan Shannon and Jennifer Simpson, both teachers at Roachdale, were also approved.