By Scott Shiner
Kuna Melba News staff writer
The Kuna School Board met Tuesday February 12 to discuss their upcoming meeting with the City of Kuna, the McREL Conference, district finances, and updates on projects for Facilities and Maintenance. “I think one of our main goals should be to find ways to save the tax payers money,” said Trustee Jim Ford.
Members of the Board discussed the possibility of identifying which programs, services and equipment overlapped with the city to see if they could save the tax payers money. Some ideas discussed were youth recreation programs, maintenance equipment and legal services, but decided they needed to investigate further as to which areas might cause problems. No definite decisions were made at this time.
Superintendent Jay Hummel reported on the McREL National Summit for Innovative Education Conference that was held the first week of February. The summit presented some of the biggest issues in education across the country. One of the main events he mentioned was a discussion between two professionals, one representing the need to have a national curriculum and teach more to the tests to raise test scores, the other representing the need to have more independent flexible curriculum chosen by each district.
“Here in the Kuna School District we encourage a more flexible approach,” said Hummel. “We don’t want a one size fits all approach.”
School Board Treasurer Bryan Fletcher provided several spreadsheets outlining the District finances, including the funds received by the supplemental levy. Each month additional reports will be presented to the school board as a part of next years budget.
“Thanks to our voting community who approved the supplemental levy we have a sound fiscal picture for our current 2012-13 and 2013-14 fiscal year, and we are taking conservative measures to have some of the proceeds financially assist the District in the 2014-15 year,” said Fletcher.
However, due to a loss of the supplemental levy along with the plant facilities levy the District could face a funding cliff starting in the 2014-15 school year that would worsen and continue out into the following years. Both the current supplemental levy and the plant facilities levy will expire at the end of tax year 2013.
The supplemental levy is a two year levy that applies to tax year 2012 and 2013. The plant facilities levy is a ten year levy that spans tax years 2004-2013. They both happen to end at the same time.
Losing both of them to expiration at the same time will be a loss of revenue for the District that exceeds $3.5 million dollars. “It is this loss that will have a hurtful effect on our budgets starting in our 2014-15 school year,” said Fletcher.
In another agenda item the facilities and maintenance department heads describe the scope of their responsibilities for 13 different sites, including seven elementary schools, two high schools, one middle school, the tech center/4th Street Gym, District Office and Kuna Police Substation. Some of the buildings are getting older which is causing concern for the roofs, HVAC units and other maintenance issues. However, replacing the older worn out equipment to brand new equipment leads to another problem.
“Most of our guys are trained on how to fix mechanical issues,” said Layne Saxton, Facilities Supervisor, “but the new equipment is digital and is more like working on a computer.”
Saxton is concerned that his current staff aren’t trained to keep up with the demands of the new technology. They will either need to hire staff with the appropriate training or consider outsourcing the jobs they aren’t able to perform.
The board also approved the increase of services of the School Resource Officer Agreement from 2.5 detectives to 3. This will allow one officer to be assigned each to the elementary schools, the middle school and the high schools. The request to bid on a new school bus was withdrawn due to not finding the bus they wanted. It will be reconsidered again next year.