Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
Highlights of the 2016-17 budget were reviewed, and a former district employee expressed disappointment to the board, at the regular July 25 USD 231 Board of Education meeting.
2016-17 Budget
Jeremy McFadden, finance director, presented an overview of the 2016-17 budget.
McFadden told the board they were not approving the budget, but simply approving the publication of the document in The Gardner News.
The board will consider approval of the budget at the Aug. 8 meeting.
McFadden said the budget accomplished two main things.
“It sets a maximum limit by fund for this coming school year,” McFadden said, “and also sets the school district mill levy.”
The document shows an overall mill levy decrease, from 69.185 to 67.777. This is the third year in a row the levy has been reduced.
“I think this is probably the most rewarding, well balanced budget we’ve put together,” said McFadden.
Public Comments
Before public comments the audience that the board was prohibited from discussing individual employee matters in an open meeting.
“The policy is that we don’t allow people to talk about individual personnel by identifiable means in an open meeting,” said Shippy.
The first commentator to address the board stated, “Some of you are probably on this board because of issues in the past with school board members.”
Near his conclusion said, “If the school board is not capable of doing its job as being the watchdog for this community, my guess is there probably will be some more positions that change hands.”
The second public comment came from Paul Jones, former USD 231 employee. “Basically what I’m asking for is some input,” he said.
Jones then read selected sections from the USD 231 handbook that outline policy in regards to maintaining a professional workplace environment that embraces professionalism, courtesy and respect.
“Individual employees are held to these standards. At what point does it come into play where the administration is supposed to also do this,” Jones said.
Later, in board members remarks, Shippy said, “For an employee that’s been dismissed or terminated, it’s kind of an open shot to come take at the board, knowing we can’t respond.”
“Those laws and those rules are put in place, and those policies, to protect the employee and other employee’s rights… as well as former employees. So to question the board’s integrity, or the staff’s, without even knowing the other side of the story, or even recognizing the possibility, is a grave injustice on your part as the public,” Shippy concluded.
Brad Chandler, board member, addressed an earlier comment that accused the board of “rubber stamping.”
“You should look back, and see this board’s not afraid to step up, take action when necessary, and if we don’t have administration or other people doing their jobs, we will take action. It has been done before,” said Chandler.
Shortly after addressing the board, Jones apparently left the building and met a FOX-4 TV news crew across the street.
Other Business
The first items on the agenda were the nominations of Rob Shippy for board president and Mary Nelson for vice president, which were both approved.
The board approved a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) bid of $12,219.496 for the high school addition and renovation project.
The board also approved applying for funds from a program called the Extraordinary Needs State Aid Application. In August, all submitted applications will be assessed by a committee, which will decide which schools qualify for aid.