Richland School Board January 29th Meeting

The Richland School District is beginning the budget process for next year.

Business Official, Kathy Stoltz, gave a review of the 2018-19 budget at the Board of Education meeting on Monday, January 29th. A rough estimate of budget expenses includes a 2.31% increase in wages in the amount of $184,000; a 5% increase in health insurance for a total of $129,000; a 7% increase in dental insurance for a total of $12,000; and an increase of about $12,000 in the Wisconsin Retirement System. Other benefits including Social Security mean about a $15,000 increase. The district also anticipates an increase of 2.16% in transportation cost which would be an increase of $13,851 and a 3% increase in LP fuel cost resulting in an additional $2,010. An average increase in utilities of 2.26% is also being included in the budget in the amount of $8,700. When compared to district revenue, it results in an approximate deficit of $382,000. However, Stoltz added that new information came in last evening before the board meeting which brings the deficit down to about $366,000. Again these are all preliminary estimates with budget development in the early stages.

The board looked at cutting the number of open enrollment students in the Jefferson and Richland Center High School Cognitive Disabilities classes. The recommendation brought before the board was 10 at Jefferson and 15 at the high school. However, to help reduce costs, discussion centered around lowering the cap of open enrollment for those two classrooms. A motion was made to cap the numbers at 7 students at Jefferson and 10 students at the high school for the purpose of space and staffing. The motion carried.

Dale Bender of Southwest Partners gave an update on the Safe Routes to School project. All three property owners from the Highway 80 South Bridge to the middle school have agreed to a 15 foot permanent easement to put in a paved walkway. Officials will be working this year with an $88,000 budget including a $75,000 donation from the Joan Woodman Orton McCollum Foundation. Bender said that it is hoped with the support and work of local contractors and companies, a gravel trail will be in place by the time school starts this fall. The goal would then be to secure additional grants to have the paving complete by fall of 2019. Bender said Southwest Partners would like the school district to look to the future and consider 50% upkeep of the trail providing a safe walking and biking path to the Middle School.

The board approved the appointment of Jamie Knipfer to finish the five year term of Brian Moore on the Richland School District Foundation Board of Directors; a Snack Pack for Backpacks program at the Richland Middle School; to move forward with a possible partnership with the Richland School District Foundation to purchase solar panels from Richland Electric Cooperative with the District portion of the cost coming from the account established with proceeds from the sale of Akan School; approved changes to the Facility Use Agreement form as presented with no fee increase for the 2018-19 fiscal year; approved renewal of the cooperative with the Ithaca School District for food service for 2018-19 and 2019-20 and renewal of the cooperative Ithaca cross country program for 2018-19 and 2019-20. The board also accepted two gifts. One from Community First Bank to bring past due lunch accounts up to date and a gift of school supplies from Mary Nee to Doudna Elementary.

In other action at the Richland School District Board of Education meeting Monday night, the board approved waiving the policy concerning school events on Wednesdays, Sundays, and holidays to allow the drama department to hold a Sunday performance of its winter play on February 11th. The play will be held Friday through Sunday, February 9 through 11.

District Administrator, Jarred Burke, reported a number of the administrators will be going to the Drug Impairment Training for Educators this Wednesday and Thursday at the Richland Hospital. And members of the board also held an open discussion on board development which will eventually lead to the ultimate goal of a strategic plan.