To the Marshall Public Schools Community:
I'd like to thank the Marshall Democrat News for offering to publish a letter from my office monthly to inform district patrons of various projects, activities,and events on which we are working in the Marshall Public Schools Central Office. The month of February may seem like a long and challenging month for school districts but in Marshall last month, we started gearing up for next year and are deep in budget, personnel and curriculum planning. That makes the month a very exciting time, full of optimism for the future. In particular, here are some of the items and issues we have going on in MPS.
Work on the energy savings projects will be in full swing immediately after school is closed. The projects for this summer include work on the heating and cooling systems at Northwest Elementary, Benton Elementary, Bueker Middle School, The Saline County Career Center and Marshall High School. In addition to these projects, we are reviewing work that needs to be done on the tennis courts, parking lots, the track, and the girls' locker room. Due to the various repair projects scheduled for this summer, summer school will be at Bueker and the high school. The dates are from June 1-28.
Revenues from the Enbridge Pipeline were $2.4 million to the district. Since this is the first time we've received state-assessed utility taxes from the pipeline and since I didn't know what to expect, I budgeted what we received last year at $1.7 million. The Missouri Tax Commission was very accurate in their prediction for the amount of revenues we received, so I feel more confident in basing next year's budget on their figures. The budget amendments will show the increase in revenues and brings my prediction for the year end as in the black.
At the February Board of Education meeting, budget amendments for revenues were approved.
Amendments for expenditures will be recommended during the Board of Education meeting on March 22.
Our fund balance last year at this time was 41.6 percent. This year, we are at 32.2 percent. Not a big concern, because local tax revenue was down from the $2.75 rate and the pipeline revenues won't be reflected until the February close. Also interesting is that there has been a slight decrease in 2015 tax receipts, with 100 percent of the current taxes being collected from 2014 and 78 percent of delinquent taxes being paid. This year, there has been 97 percent of the current taxes collected and 74 percent of the delinquent.
Marshall Public Schools is working with Missouri Valley College to implement graduate-level study for MPS school leaders. Plans for the Aspiring Administrators Program are now in full gear, with the intent to begin classes this summer. MPS administrators will be very involved in the curriculum design of the program and the internship will be embedded in MPS schools. Dr. Wellborne, from MVC, is working with me to make sure we have the best program possible for MPS future administrators. Classes will be offered in the Marshall High School campus, and aspiring administrators from area districts will be invited to join the program.
Due to federal regulations governing public schools' food service programs, lunch prices will increase by 10 cents next year for students and adults. Breakfast prices will stay the same.
There is a lot going on in the Missouri legislature right now. The funding formula is probably the biggest topic in Jefferson City and there are several issues that may have an indirect impact on the implementation of the formula this year.
HB 1888, if passed, would decrease funding to public schools to pay for allowances through a voucher system for private schools.
HB 1943 would change the way attendance data is calculated in the state funding formula by allowing all schools, rather than just St. Louis and Kansas City, to count their early childhood students for additional aid. The estimates are that this would increase the divisor for the number of students who would share in state resources by around 10,000.
Legislators are also discussing:
* Changing the way in which state assessed utilities (pipeline) are calculated so local tax levies aren't affected as drastically as this year.
* Who should makes the decision about school start dates.
*Allowing home-school students to participate in extracurricular activities.
* Distributing gaming money (from casinos) differently. Currently, funding from gaming reduces state aid in the formula, so schools don't benefit from that source of income at all.
*Transportation funding (it is supposed to be at 75 percent and is currently funded at 25 percent.)
Please note that the March Board of Education meeting will be March 22, in the Central Office. The April meeting will be a week earlier than typical, as by law the district must reorganize the Board of Education within a certain length of time from the election. The April meeting, then, will be on April 19.
On a personal note, I'd like to share the news that the Marshall BOE and I agreed to add another year to my current contract, taking my tenure with the district through the 2018--2019 school year. To be transparent in this legal agreement, it should be stated that I asked not to be considered for a raise to my salary. I am so honored to be the superintendent of Marshall Public Schools and appreciate the faith the Board of Education has in me and the overwhelming support I get from the community of Marshall.
This column originally published in the March 9, 2016, print edition.