The Stockton R-I school board met on Monday, June 22, to discuss the 2020-21 school year’s budget, lunch meal prices and how plans are looking for COVID-19 logistics as the new school year comes closer into view.
At the beginning of the meeting, June 2’s election results were announced. Incumbent board members Dianna Saathoff and Billy Bruce were present at the meeting, as well as newly elected board member Rodger Campbell.
The board discussed the 2020-2021 budget — which represents the district’s financial plan, covering revenues, expenditures and fund balances — at length during the session.
According to the budget, there are a few topics which impact the 2020-21 budget.
The taxes derived from local assessed valuation are the primary source of revenue in the district.
“Certified assessed valuation figures are expected to be released by the Cedar County Assessor and Dade County Assessor in August, prior to the Board of Education setting the tax levy at a public hearing in August, 2020,” the budget says. “Initial estimates from the Cedar County Assessor indicate assessed valuation rates will experience a slight increase for the upcoming tax year.”
The budget says R-I currently has a total certified tax levy of $3.5209 per $100 of assessed valuation. The district’s operational levy totals $2.9067 per $100 of assessed valuation. The remainder, $0.6142., is a debt service levy. The tax rates will be set by the Board of Education in August 2020 and may be changed.
The budget says due to local assessed valuation decreases on existing property, the application of Missouri’s Hancock Amendment allows for tax rate ceilings to increase in order to make reassessment “revenue neutral.” Tax levy ceilings may be increased up to the last voter-approved tax levy.
The budget also highlights district expenditures in regard to academic services, which are expenditures on technology and academic achievement and assessment programming; human resources, which are maintaining competitive salaries, staffing, employee benefits and employee retirement; and school improvement, which maintains support for the district’s strategic plan.
According to the budget’s total revenue budget by fund, the budgeted values for 2020-21 stand at $4,045,671 for the general fund; $4,4,596,783 for the special fund; $675,234 for the debt service fund; and $56,397 for the capital fund.
The 2020-21 budgeted revenues stand at $4,612,172 from the local source; $146,500 from the county source; $3,473,434 from the state source; $1,138,479 from the federal source; and $3,500 from other revenue, for a grand total of $9,374,085.
Decreased revenue from local sources — compared to 2018-2019’s $4,749,027 and 2019-20’s estimated $4,826,481 — is “primarily due to conservative budgeting in sales tax collections,” the budget says.
The decreased amount of state funding for 2020-21 “is because of a projection of decreased summer school numbers for the summer of 2020, a declining enrollment and conservative budgeting due to the COVID-19 effect on the Missouri economy,” the budget says.
After retiring R-I superintendent Shannon Snow talked through the budget book with the board, Saathoff thanked Snow for being thorough with the budget and keeping numbers tight.
The board voted unanimously to approve the budget.
R-I’s new superintendent Doug Crawford spoke to the board regarding COVID-19, saying he will keep the board updated on coronavirus information he receives.
“It sounds like we are mainly going to make a lot of local decisions with this,” Crawford said.
Crawford also said he spoke with Jenean Ehlers, the Cedar County Health Department’s Community Services Manager, and requested a meeting with her and other local school districts she works with.
“I would like a flow chart put in place that we’re not likened on an island to where we make decisions on what to do if a staff member’s in contact — what to do in a classroom, those type of things,” Crawford said.
Campbell offered his view, saying for the district to be prepared ahead of an outbreak is reasonable, especially regarding school bus drivers — most of who are over the age of 60, he said.
Crawford said when cold and flu season comes into swing, it will be hard to assess symptoms and differentiate from the novel coronavirus; thus, if the health department can attain test kits which provide testing results faster than a wait of three to five days, it would help the district and prevent more exposures.
The board agreed to take precautions and plan accordingly, especially since some students are at a high risk for COVID-19’s symptoms. Special education services may possibly be provided for students who are medically fragile.