School board holds line on most costs
Student fees and lunch prices were discussed Monday night, but only one fee structure will be increasing.
Increasing prices for fuel, food and almost everything has hit school districts hard. However, after Monday's Baldwin School Board meeting, most fees will be staying at their current cost from the 2007-2008 school year.
After debating about student activities' fees and lunch prices, textbook fees will be increased. The textbook fees for grades six through 12 will be bumped from $55 to $60.
"There has been a request to increase the textbook fee price $5 to cover the cost of the handbooks," Supt. Paul Dorathy said. "Last year the district picked up that cost, but we will ask the patrons to pay for them this year."
There was much more discussion by the school board about lunch prices and activities' fees. When the topic of lunch prices came up, Board President Alison Bauer asked Dorathy if discussion was needed.
He said that after talking with Cynde Frick, director of finances, and Julie Henry, food service director, they agreed to maintain the prices from this past school year.
"What we felt we could do for a year, is have that go into a reserve amount of money and see how much it hits us," Dorathy said. "Then the following year, we may have to increase the prices. We felt we could hold it one more year though.
"I think we were also looking at other districts and how much they were charging and we've been on the high side," he said. "So, we felt like we should probably try and ride another year at the same prices. Then we'll have to adjust after this year."
The next area of discussion was the activities' fees. Last year's cost was $30, but Board Member Ruth Barkley suggested raising the price to $35 for this year.
"That's the one area where the most transportation is involved," she said. "We are always busing kids all over."
Board Member Scott Lauridsen objected, saying he didn't want to increase prices for the same group, since the same age group would be affected by the textbook and activities' fees.
That sparked a discussion by the entire school board about activities, travel and sporting events. The board then asked Dorathy about how the district was trying to save money, especially with fuel costs rising.
"I've talked with Mr. (Ernie) Gwin, the new transportation director, about how to save on fuel costs and I've talked with Gary Stevanus about changing game schedules and teams that we are playing," Dorathy said. "There are some schools like Perry-Lecompton that we aren't playing at all. I would say we should play closer to home rather than cut the number of games we play."
Lauridsen wrapped up the discussion by saying the board has three issues to look at regarding fuel cost savings.
"There are three things we can address," he said. "The number of games, which is a league thing and we're all having this problem so it can be discussed, the number and size of vehicles we take to these events and the third thing is the distance we travel. Those ought to be on our plate to be discussed."
In the end, the $30 fee from last year was approved.
Along with the fees, the school board also approved an amended policy about those who qualify for free or reduced lunches. Those who qualify for free lunches will have their fees waived and those who qualify for a reduced price will pay 50 percent of the approved fee cost.
"I think that was the intent we had last meeting," Lauridsen said of changing the wording the policy from textbook fees to all fees. "We also wanted to help those who can't financially pay the fees for an activity. Those were the two goals we had."
Other approved items at Monday's meeting included the usual assortment of designations that happens every July and a change in the meeting time. Bauer was once again voted in as the president, while Blaine Cone remains the vice president.
The board approved a time change for its meetings. They will now begin at 6:30 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. The vote was 6-1 with Cone as the opposing vote.
The board also discussed having a 30-minute executive session at the beginning of meetings and starting the regular session at 7 p.m. still. That would help shorten the executive session at the end of the meetings, but it would require a policy change.
"The policy that they would look at is the order of the meeting," Dorathy said. "They are just going to look at that policy to see if they want to change it or not. As far as the time at 6:30, they just decided that's when they would start the meetings, but next month they will look at the policy."
The only other item of note from Monday night was the personnel report. The resignations included Cheryl Norton (Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center food service worker), Pilar Villena Ariza (Baldwin High School Spanish instructor) and Michelle Summers (BHS vocal music instructor).
The hires included Jody Coleman (4-year-old instructor), Inigo Mielgo Salcedo (BHS Spanish instructor), Beth Watts (BHS vocal music instructor), Boyd Lund (BHS assistant soccer coach), Patti Burch-Ousdahl (Baldwin Junior High School cheer sponsor), Scott Crenshaw (BHS assistant track coach) and Jill Cannon (BHS assistant girls' tennis coach).
The next school board meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. August 11 at the District Office.