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Slater school board delays decision on bond issue

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More answers just brought more questions for the Slater Board of Education at its regular meeting on Tuesday, July 21.

After hearing from Sedalia architect Robert Rollins, the board again delayed making a decision about whether or not to place a bond issue before voters in November for a new preschool and kindergarten building.

Instead, the board voted to pay $2,000 for Rollins to work up a preliminary design of the site, which will give a more accurate representation of possible costs of the building.

"We can have a plan that you might not be happy with, I might not be happy with, but it will be size-wise a depiction of what it will take to get what you want," said Rollins, adding he could have that done in approximately a week. "We might still have to make an educated guess on that construction cost per square foot, but at least we would have square foot that we would feel confident on."

The board agreed to meet on Aug. 5 at 7 p.m. to view those plans.

Rollins told the board that if they decide to not move forward at that point, $2,000 would be all they owe. If they do continue the money will be applied to further costs.

"That $2,000 design work will come off of your schematic design work later," said Rollins.

Currently the district's preschool program is housed in trailers outside the Alexander Elementary Building.

The new building could also help expand the preschool program, which already has a waiting list of interested students, according to district officials.

The board hopes to use newly available Quality School Construction Bond money, which is tax-free. QSCB, which is part of the federal stimulus package, only needs a 4/7-majority vote to pass.

Superintendent John McEachern has said that because of the bonding capacity within their district it would be a no-tax-increase bond.

"We can't go above $1.9 (million)," said McEachern, adding they wanted the price to be "closer to $1 (million)."

The board also voted to raise seven longtime teachers' salaries to make their pay compatible with teachers who haven't been teaching as long.

The discrepancy developed because of a policy that allows teachers to "bring in" only part of their years of teaching experience was changed. Recently hired teachers are allowed to bring in all their years of experience to the salary schedule.

Because of the change of policy, a teach with five years experience in teaching would be making almost the same amount as someone with 20 years experience, said McEachern.

"People weren't being rewarded for their experience," he told the board during the meeting that since teacher's retirement was based on their last three years pay, they could risk losing experienced teachers to a larger district.

The issue was discussed before the board went into closed session. After closed session the board reconvened in open session and voted to approve the salary increase, which will cost the district less than $12,000 annually.

"It is minimal cost to the district," said McEachern, adding that looking up to four years in the future, they may have just one or two teachers in the same situation.

Also in closed session the board accepted the resignation of Brett Hayes from his assistant football, baseball and basketball coaching positions.

In other business:

--the board voted to keep 2009-2010 school lunch prices the same as last year,

--voted to approve changes to the preschool handbook for the upcoming year,

--set the levy hearing for Aug. 18 at their regular meeting,

--voted to discontinue a $300 yearly stipend to the board treasurer and assistant treasurer for 2009-10 school year. Instead, they will be given a yearly activities pass.

Contact Marcia Gorrell at marshallag@socket.net

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