Debbie Hickman
Special to The Gardner News
Superintendent Bill Gilhaus told USD 231 board members that a lack of funding may cause challenges for the district in the next year.
Gilhaus gave a presentation to the board during the Jan. 13 meeting. He outlined the district’s accomplishments, future goals and ended on the topic of dollars and cents, or rather, the lack of.
The superintendent identified funding as the main issue the board will have to address. Gilhaus stated that the health care reform act, beginning in 2015, will require the school district to offer insurance coverage to an additional 186 employees not currently eligible to enroll in the district program.
He explained that that increase in the number of employees to be covered, figured at the current premium rate of $4,493 per person, per year combined with any rate increases, will result in close to a $1 million dollar increase district healthcare costs.
A million dollars, Gilhaus said, they do not have.
“Obamacare is going to put it to us,” Board president Mark Grannell said.
Gilhaus said it is nice to offer health insurance and all people should have coverage, but it comes at a cost.
Rob Shippy, board member, asked how other school districts are handling the issue of funding, as they are in the same position as our district.  Gilhaus admitted that other districts are facing the same issues and making cuts where they can.
The superintendent told board members some districts, which he said he would identify, cleaned school buildings every other night rather than nightly to cut costs. Gilhaus said it is referred to it as “Trash and Dash.”
Gilhaus inquired with Jeremy McFadden, director of business and finance, as to any interaction with other districts in regards to funding. McFadden indicated there is a lot of silence and looking at each other during meetings with other districts.
“We have a dollar problem with a five cent solution,” McFadden said.
In other business board members:
• considered a proposed change to school policy related to the number of days students can miss school for college visits. Gilhaus proposed a  change that would increase the allowed visit days from two days to five per year. Initial response by board members to consider such a change was positive.
• discussed proposed changes to school board policy 5700, a district regulation that deals with open records. Grannell asked school district attorney Joe Hatley for more information. Proposed changes will be presented at the February board of education meeting for review. There was no mention of a public hearing to allow input from district patrons on revisions to policy 5700 Public Records.