At their regular June 21, 2021, meeting, the R-P School Board adopted their 2021-2022 budget totaling $8,078,143.00 after a short presentation by Superintendent Jon Thompson. At the beginning of last school year, overspending of $100,000 was anticipated; COVID increased that amount when a number of parents decided to homeschool their children. The proposed budget will have an increase of $55,000 to $60,000. Currently, it is projected that 14 students will return to in person learning at R-P. If the state sets the school’s increase higher than 1% and/or enrollment increases, the budget would be affected favorably.
The two funds in the budget which will be in the red are Community Education and Debt Service. Community Education is projected to be $50,041 in the red. This is, however, all preschool expense; Thompson feels the expenditure will pay for itself by favorably affecting the students’ education throughout their time at R-P. He praised Community Ed Director Lisa Lawston for her successful work in getting the rest of the Community Ed budget in the black.
The debt service fund balance was $550,000 at the end of the year; these funds will cover the estimated $27,569 in the red that the new budget shows. The $550,000 exists because at the beginning the state allowed the school to levy at 105%; as time goes by and the fund grows, the state adjusts the amount levied to a smaller percentage. In this way the excess collected will be spent down.
Critical Race Theory discussion
Thompson brought up the Critical Race Theory, noting the theory is actually over 40 years old. He stated that it is not a part of the school curriculum at this time nor will it be addressed in the state standards. He went on to say that R-P has always “strived to teach respect and fairness for all students, staff, and community members.” He went on, “Schools work to provide an understanding of our differences and to assure all students have an equal opportunity to learn to their fullest capabilities.”
Board member Jeff Michel said he felt the Critical Race Theory was another avenue to hate and division. He stated, “Any time you label something it causes divisions.”
Ken Sawle responded, “It’s easy to have that opinion because we don’t struggle with that — we are not persons of color. It’s important to recognize our own biases. It’s dismissive of their experiences.”
Joyce Iverson pointed out, “Sometimes we have unconscious reactions and don’t even realize our biases.”
Thompson in closing said, “As a school district, we don’t want to get caught up in labeling.” The board agreed that the goal is to treat all students as individuals and to help them reach their full potential.
In other business, the board:
•Heard that Community Education would be trying “wrap around care” this year; this will allow students to attend preschool and stay at school for the rest of the day rather than needing to go to a daycare;
•Set a special meeting for 5:30 p.m., Monday, June 28, 2021, to set an election to fill the school board vacancy;
•Approved the Q-Comp report, noting that they felt Q-Comp was a “really valuable” program in supporting teachers and promoting collaboration.
The next school board meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. July 19 in the R-P Forum Room; the public is welcome to attend.