Richland School Board May 1st Meeting

The Richland School Board met for the first time with its new look on Monday night as Jane Williams gaveled in the meeting as president.

She assumed the role during last week’s annual reorganization meeting succeeding Paul Corcoran who is now a general member of the school board. Bennie Green is now the vice president, and Toni McCarvell is the treasurer, taking the place of Brady Doudna and Williams respectively.

The Richland School Board continued to weigh staffing ideas in the face of a significant budget shortfall next school year. Per the board’s request, District Administrator Jarred Burke presented three positions the administration was considering: a half-time School Clinical Psychologist position at a cost of roughly $50,000; a full-time 7th grade math teacher at a cost of roughly $75,000; and a full-time Family & Consumer Sciences teaching position at approximately $75,000, with another $25,000 annually for a budget and about $20,000 for start-up costs and repair or replacement of equipment. The proposed positions do not include a Dean of Students position at the Richland Middle School – a position that was earlier requested for consideration by the school board. Burke said the district is currently facing a $400,000 budget deficit, so adding staff would be a significant challenge unless they made cuts through staff attrition, reduction in building budgets, or changes in staff benefits. He said they still have not made a final decision on filling the Middle School IMC Director position or the Doudna Instructional Coach. Both of those could provide budget relief, but not enough to close the shortfall. Still, Burke said that while they will continue to inform the board of what a “fully staffed” district would look like, the reality is the finances go a long way in determining what the district is able to offer to students. In addition, the board will need to decide on staffing levels soon in order to craft a budget for next school year, so it’s unclear if any of the three proposed positions will come to fruition.

The first reading of a new policy providing exempt employees and supervisors a retirement benefit failed on a 3-to-3 tie vote. The policy would have given certain non-teaching positions a retirement benefit if they had served the Richland School District for a continuous period of 25 years or more and were at least 55 years old. The district could limit the number of applicants granted to one per year, and the benefit sum would not exceed $7,000 for five years after retirement. Brady Doudna questioned the unknown level of costs associated with the benefit in any given year, while Paul Corcoran requested a multi-tiered benefit depending on the number of years the individual served the district. Both joined Bennie Green in opposing the proposed policy, resulting in its failure.

In other news from the Richland School Board meeting Monday night, the board approved the donation of $2,500 from the Monsanto Fund to Doudna Elementary and the Richland Middle and High School Band programs. The funds came from the America’s Farmers Grow Communities program on behalf of Richland County’s Gordon Keller and Junction View Dairy. Finally, the board accepted the donation of $200 to the RCHS athletic department from the UW School of Medicine & Public Health.