Teutopolis Board Attempts to Navigate Choppy Financial Waters (ADDITIONAL INFO)

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Published on February 11 2014 3:05 am
Last Updated on February 11 2014 4:14 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

With a contract impasse with district teachers looming large, the Teutopolis Board of Education began the process Monday of looking at a second straight year of budget cuts.

No specifics of any cuts were discussed; the Board scheduled a special meeting for Monday, February 24 specifically to discuss possible cuts.  Superintendent Bill Fritcher said some of the meeting will be conducted in closed session, since specific individuals could be part of the discussion.

A large group of community citizens were on hand, including many Teutopolis district teachers.  The general state aid projections were reviewed for next year and Board members shared whether they were, or were not, in favor of dipping into reserves as part of the budget process.  

Retired Teutopolis teacher Ken Crawford asked for clarification regarding a "hard freeze" and "soft freeze" when it came to pay rates.  Fritcher explained that under a "soft freeze", teachers would still get their step on the salary schedule, but no percentage pay increase.  Under a "hard freeze", pay would remain the same next year as this school year.

Fritcher also explained that projections are that the District will see a $247,000 loss in General State Aid during the coming budget year.  He said that some of that amount could be made up, though, if the district's EAV goes up, and he said an increase is expected.

The Board also passed a resolution stating how the District would use the revenue if the county tax swap proposal is approved by voters in the March 18th election.  The resolution says the funds will first be used for the annual abatement of property taxes used to pay existing debt until the debt is paid off.  Second, the funds will be used to pay for the general maintenance needs of current facilities.  Third, the funds would be used to pay for future construction needs of the District including the possible demolition of the original 1929 high school facility and construction of a replacement.  The resolution also said any revenue generated by the facility occupation tax would be deposited to earn interest until they are used for the stated purposes.

In other business Monday night, the Teutopolis board accepted resignations from Cathy Zaccari as grade school teacher aide retroactive to January 31 and from Aaron Wendt as high school assistant soccer coach, and then approved Wendt as varsity soccer coach.  Also approved: Ron Cowman as high school assistant softball coach, Sarah Schabbing as grade school teacher aide, and Michael Gillespie as custodian at the junior high building to clean after ballgames.  It was also agreed to seek an assistant high school soccer coach.

The Board approved a revised school calendar to reflect days lost due to inclement weather, and also approved the proposed school calendar for 2014-15.  The starting date for teachers would be August 13, followed by a half-day for students on August 14 and the first full day for students on Friday, August 15.

Board members approved a senior class trip to Chicago on April 23 with seniors not in attendance on April 24.

The Board also tentatively set high school graduation and junior high promotion dates.  Teutopolis High School graduation is tentatively set for Sunday, May 18; the use of more emergency days may necessitate the high school graduation being moved to Sunday, May 25.  Teutopolis Junior High 8th grade promotion is tentatively set for Thursday, May 29, which is the last day of student attendance for now; if the District happens to use any additional emergency days, the junior high promotion will most likely be the last day of student attendance.

Teutopolis board members also agreed to let the high school FFA chapter farm the plot west of the junior high school, and discussed a recently-received State maintenance grant and how it will be used to pay for work on the high school roof.