Monday, June 05, 2023

Trustees OK $9M '13 budget

by Alan Lewis Gerstenecker
| August 21, 2012 1:38 PM

Libby District 4 School Board of Trustees on Monday approved a $9.495 million budget for 2012-’13 school year that reflects a 1.36 percent increase over the previous and allowed for the 1 percent raise for employees.

The board approved the tally 5-0. Board member Lori Benson was absent.

Superintendent K.W. Maki said preparing this budget was more difficult than others, but certainly was not as difficult as he foresees for next year’s tally.

“Next year, with declining enrollment, there will be much less (revenue),” Maki said. “We have some one-time money that we were able to use this year to fill the holes. Next year, that won’t be the case.”

For example, the district graduated 121 students this spring. Next year, the number of seniors declines to 78, a point Maki said will amount to nearly $500,000 less in compensated revenue from the state. 

   “We need to think of ways to budget for next year,” Maki said Tuesday. “There are no more schools to close. What remains is to reduce programs and staffs.”

   Another option, of course, is a bond referendum or a tax levy, possibilities thus far have been seen as a last alternative.

   As for balancing the budget for next year, two board members, Amy Fantozzi and Ellen Johnston, have indicated a desire to make sure there is a priority for classroom education over activities.

   It was the second consecutive month that Fantozzi stressed a preference for math, reading and the sciences over extra-curricular opportunities.

   “I’m not against athletics,” Fantozzi said. “I played sports in high school, and I was a member of the speech team. I just think before we start talking about doing away with school nurses and cutting back personnel for classrooms, that we take a look over extra-curricular activities.”

   The discussion came to a head, when Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Jim Germany sought the hiring of a six-person coaching staff for the Logger football team, which the board ultimately approved.

   During a subsequent interview Wednesday, Fantozzi said she understands the liability of not having enough coaches for a contact sport such as football, but when other areas are being cut she thinks it would have been a good gesture for the football program to make a sacrifice as well.

   “We have people volunteering in other areas. Maybe one of these coaches, who understands our budget situation, would consider volunteering their time as well,” Fantozzi said.

   The board approved the hiring of Neil Fuller as head football coach, Tim Hodel, Josh Bean, Kyle Hannah, Wally Winslow and Wayne Baker as assistant coaches. The board also approved Bill Moe and Nik Rewerts as fifth- and sixth-grade football coaches.

   Sport coaching positions also approved include Cindy Ostrem Johnston as head volleyball coach, Kyle Crawford and Ann Walker as assistant coaches at the high school.

   At the Middle School, Steph Germany was approved as volleyball coach with Lea Spencer and Erin Boothman as other coaches.

   Rod Tempel was rehired as the cross-country coach; Dann Roher as the golf coach and Charlie Webster as boys soccer coach and Joe Cik as the girls soccer coach.

   The board also heard from Ryan McKee, a 19-year-old student who requested the opportunity to attend Central School so he may get his high school diploma. McKee, who will be 20 when he completes his schooling next spring, missed much of the past year.

   “Graduation matters,” Maki said. “That’s what we tell our students. He’s here and wants to finish school.”

   The board unanimously approved McKee’s attendance at Central School with the stipulation that his progress be monitored every nine weeks.

   Upon leaving the meeting, LHS Principal Rik Rewerts told McKee: “Don’t goof this up.”

   The board also saw a PowerPoint presentation from former Vista representative Sindy Fuller on the parent survey. 

   The survey polled 170 persons from families of students and included 44 teachers. 

   Among the most-requested is computer and technology training — 40.3 percent of respondents would like to see more of this type of training; 35 percent wanted more reading instruction; 35 percent wanted more academic planning and the remainder wanted more math activities.

   The most-requested family participation action was 54 percent indicated they would like to see more luncheons with their child’s activities. Forty-nine percent would consider volunteering with their child’s class and 38 percent would participate in book fairs.

   In a somewhat surprising tally, 93 percent of parents said they attended a parent and teacher conference in the last year, while 73 percent said they attended an open house at their child’s school.

   Among the most-attended events are sports and concerts, the survey found. The least-attended were book fairs and gingerbread house-making.

   A recent letter to parents of school district children from Maki reported the district had failed to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress report for accountability. In Libby, 68 percent of students through testing were rated as proficient. The Montana average is 80 percent. In reading, the Montana standard is 89.6 percent. Libby students performed at 87 percent proficiency.

   The AYP mandates, which is part of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, have steadily risen since 2001. Board members, while disappointed the district did not meet the criteria, pointed out students have made steady improvements in the years since the mandate. Board members agreed the district may send a subsequent letter to parents highlighting the continued progress despite the shortcoming.

   Acting upon the recommendation of its Wellness Committee, the board approved a 24-cent increase in the cost of school lunches from $2.27 to $2.51 for the purpose of increasing the fruit and vegetable offerings at schools. This fall, students will have the option of eating from a salad bar.