The Altus Public Schools Board of Education held a meeting in the board conference room at the Administrative Center on Monday. In attendance were Superintendent Roger Hill, members Kelley Duncan, James Patterson, Debora Phillips, Dr. John Thomas, Clerk of the Board Karen Sanchez and Altus Air Force Base Ex-Offico member Col. Terri Jones. President Stephen Barnett was absent.
The meeting began with roll call followed closely by the Pledge of Allegiance. There were no comments from the public and so the meeting quickly moved on to the superintendent’s reports and comments over the preliminary fiscal year 2017 budget beginning July 1.
“A couple of points I want to make about this document, if you would look at Code 3120, our motor vehicle collections,” Hill said. “Due to House Bill 2244, this year we have taken a significant decrease in those funds coming to us through the state. We are down this year in excess of over $300,000 for the year. This impacts our district significantly and it came to us as a surprise. That’s all thanks to our state Legislature. Second one is our state aid, which is our largest source of state revenue and that’s Code 3210. You can see going back to 2011-12, state aid for that year and the next year was $13.36 million. We are projecting with the cuts this year somewhere around $11 million for the 2016-17 school year.”
Hill went on to talk about the preliminary budget the district will be working off this year, — $24.37 million — an $8 million decrease from past years. Enrollment numbers and revenue are partially responsible for the reduction.
The total decrease in revenue for the district is $1.65 million. The plans to make that up come from the reduction of staff in which two administrative positions, 16 full-time staff and 15 support staff positions were cut for a savings of $1.28 million.
The total general fund carryover is expected to be $3.72 million.
Next up were pre-enrollment numbers. Hill mentioned One-stop enrollment starting July 29, in which he expects enrollment numbers to increase.
Hill opened the floor for questions or comments.
and Thomas spoke up saying, “Every time I’ve been to the city to these state school board meetings, members of the Legislature always talk about finding a new growing dedicated revenue stream for education and it sounds great, but then they take 2244 and they cap it,” Thomas said. “Why would you cap a growing revenue stream when you’re trying to look for new ones? A reduction of $1.2 million worth of salaries means larger classes, fewer teacher’s aides and fewer support staff. While we’re trying to give children more education, we’re giving them less. It’s a really complicated and complex problem, but it is devastating our schools.”
The discussion turned towards the cutting of textbook funds and alternative education funds. Altus schools received $171,000 for textbooks and alternative education—while it will continue—will see more costs coming from the district rather than state funding.
The board then voted on retirements and resignations. Certified retirements include: Rusty Garrett, director of technology and Cathy Madl, Title I of Altus Primary Schools. Resignations are Jammie Hamm, fourth grade; Elisabeth Kincannon, second grade; Bridgette Wheatley, seventh grade; Kelley Winsett, second grade; John Conrad, crossing guard. All of which were approved.
After running through a list of approvals involving proposed substitutes, time sheet employees, volunteers, a reduced-price workers compensation insurance coverage, a reduced-price district liability and property insurance coverage, and a slight increase in the monthly rates to the extended day program, the board moved on to the lease purchase agreement with Apple Inc. for iPads and accessories for pre-kindergarten through fourth grade. The move was approved by the board with a look towards the future.
“The tradeoffs I would like to think, I think we’ve seen some and I think we’ll continue to see more. Technology is a tool like a textbook. We’re seeing the use of these far more than textbooks for instructional purposes and I think it is a move in the right direction.” Hill said. “We’re seeing more value out of this.”
The board approved sending Bruce Farquhar to attend the National Association of Agriculture Education Region II Conference in College Station, Texas on June 19-22.
There was also an approval for a list of items to be sold to the public which will likely be in auction format at a later date.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.