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R-P considers uncertain financial future

Fri, Jun 22nd, 2007
Posted in Education

RUSHFORD - Even with all the extra time and effort going into the superintendent search, the R-P school board still has to hold their regular meetings to conduct business, which they did Monday, June 18.

The board was set to conduct second interviews last week with superintendent candidates Ehlers, Kulland, and Delaney, with the hope of making an offer sometime the week of June 25.

It was superintendent Jeff Miller's last meeting, and he offered his sincere thanks to the staff, parents and students of R-P for his four good years here. Miller also wished the board well and said, "I sincerely hope you find what you're looking for in your (superintendent) search."

The board declined to renew Miller's three year contract this past spring.

Miller also offered a financial prediction. "I know you don't want to hear this," he said, but based on his years with the district and what he sees as trends, Miller predicts that as early as the 2008-09 school year, the district will see "in excess of a $200,000 deficit" in its general fund balance, which has been healthy and in the black for several years, following a time of heavy cuts about five years ago.

Miller reminded the group that just as the auditor has predicted in the past two annual reports, the district is beginning to eat into the general fund, which cannot be avoided.

"So we're budgeting for a $200,000 loss?" Greg Smith asked. "What are we going to do?"

The group discussed the probability of asking for another operating levy when the current one is up in three years. Miller informed the group that districts can now get operating levies that have a built-in inflation buffer. He advised the group to do that on their next levy.

The financial discussion continued for awhile with Roger Metz concluding, "What I don't want to see is blaming any particular event or group for the fund balance." Given the current variables, especially unpredictable state funding, using the fund balance is simply "part of doing business" Metz said.

The board approved a bid for $7,774 from Winona Heat and Vent to install an air exchanger in the middle school band room, which has been a site of air quality concerns for a number of years. The bid doesn't include wiring or the installation of a control timer/occupancy sensor, and there was not yet a definite date for completion.

The board approved a number of hirings, including retiree Paul Skalet hired back as custodian, and retiree Jim Reinhardt back as math teacher and head football coach.

Other hirings include the following:

• Jennifer Schwartz and Emily Johnson, Lille By Preschool

• Kathy Wade and Terry Pelzl, co-coaches for varsity and B-squad volleyball.

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