By Sue Moore
Good financial news was presented by Assistant Superintendent Steve Goss at the June school board meeting. The interest rate on the bonds that went to market after the successful millage campaign in May have come in at a phenomenal rate of 2.1835, Goss said. They actually start out at 1.8 percent and increase to 2.1 over the life of the bonds.
Budget projections for 2014/15 show a balanced budget without the need to make cuts as in past years, according to Goss. That, of course, depends on what the legislature provides in the way of per pupil foundation money for the school year.
Goss and Superintendent Charlie Glaes have been following the progress of the appropriation bills in Lansing and feel fairly safe in projecting a net $7,286 per pupil on which to base the budget. They are projecting the same student enrollment as in 2013/14, to be on the safe side, they said.
“We don’t expect to be growing like gangbusters,” Goss said.
However, the disproportionate contribution to the pension plan that eats up 24.58 percent of the budget, continues to plague the budget numbers, Goss said.
“It’s our largest cost after salaries,” he said. The expenditures in the preliminary budget totaled $24,265,529 overall.
In other financial news, the board singled out Maureen Ouvry, food service manager, for running a self-supporting program with revenues of $1,055,000 and expenses of $982,500. Nevertheless, she recommended an increase in the price of the school lunch to $2.50 each day which the board approved. This increase is needed due to the many changes being imposed by the Federal government to emphasize serving healthier foods that are likely to cost much more, Ouvry said.
In other business, the board approved adding another Advanced Placement course in the high school for macroeconomics, with a cost of approximately $9,000. Rudy Callen, trustee, said he doesn’t see any down side to the proposal, since parents can save money if their children successfully complete AP courses for college credit. Shena Page, high school social studies teacher, made the request, saying she had 78 students wanting to enroll in the class.
Teachers in the systemwide fitness program presented their findings, based upon a health-based assessment. The students and their parents receive a report as each person is tracked for their Healthy Fitness Zone (HFZ). There is a definite relationship to academic performance when a student is physically fit, according to Kurt Phelps, the weight training instructor in the high school.
In other presentations, Sunset Lake Principal Pat Moreno and Jamie Masco, instructional consultant at Sunset Lake, updated the school board on efforts made at Sunset School to overcome their Focus School designation by the state.
“The kids are growing but we still have a few struggling students,” Masco said.
“Our bottom students are moving up and the gap between the top and bottom students is narrowing,” Moreno said. “As soon as we look at the testing data, we start doing things with intervention. We have selected students for summer school which should also help.”
A video was made to show to elementary students, centering on the reasons children should stay in school, Masco said. It won honorable mention in a statewide contest for schools of Vicksburg’s size.
Hunter Mynhier from the high school videography class wrote and produced the video. It featured several Sunset Lake students in discussions about why they liked school and what staying in school would mean for their future success.