2012-01-26 / Front Page

Finances, Transportation Top SFSB Agenda

By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

Finances and transportation were two of the hot topics discussed by the Southern Fulton School Board last week. As part of the January 17 meeting, the board and administration heard from Dan Simpson, audit manager from Rotz and Stonesifer, who provided a brief overview of the district’s audit report for the 2010- 11 school year.

Giving the district the best opinion possible, also known an “unqualified opinion,” Simpson noted for the record only four outstanding issues were noted in his report. Two of those internal control issues are frequently found in smaller school districts and have been an annual find in Southern Fulton’s audit for multiple years.

Simpson stated the district typically relies on its auditor for preparation of financial statements in comparison to preparing the documents themselves; there is a lack of segregation of duties in the business office; there is a need to continue with reappraising district property; and an error was recorded in one instance in the amount of funding received.

Moving onto transportation, the board accepted, with much regret, a letter from bus contractor Kevin Mellott, who will be terminating his contract for bus Route #14 at the conclusion of the current school year. After accepting the termination letter, the board approved a first reading of Policy 810, Operations, Transportation.

The board went on to discuss a proposal received from Dave and Karen Smith of D&K Transport Inc. In the proposal, the Smiths agreed to continue operating the activities route for an additional year at a rate of $2 per mile. There would not be a charge for any layover time, which would equate to an estimated savings of $15,000 for the district.

However, as part of his proposal, the Smiths said they could only offer one bus for the activity route. Dave Smith suggested the district use a similar mode of operation under way at Central Fulton where several contractors split the activities route according to particular sports and seasons. He added that if a second contractor was located to assist with activities, he could provide a third bus in the event one would be needed.

Dave Smith concluded he was willing to help out the district, which years ago allowed him the opportunity to purchase a new bus that will be paid off in several months. The administration agreed to research the topic further and return to the board in February for additional discussion.

A first reading of 15 different policies, ranging in topic from local board procedures to programs for gifted students, was approved as presented to the board. In addition, the board went on to approve a first reading, which would delete a total of five policies from its policy manual. The policies to be deleted cover substitute compensation for professional and support employees, emergency procedures for property and Title 1 and human development programs.

Pending the completion of necessary paperwork, Jason Durham, Mark Peterson, Dariel Pelton and Stephen Weatherholt were added to the professional substitute list for the remainder of the 2011-12 school year.

In following school code, several individuals were appointed to serve as members of the district’s Professional Education Subcommittee. Those appointed include parents Donna Beale and Eric Barnhart; community representatives Nancy Younker and Rick Harr; business representatives Gerri Fischer and Gerri Strait; and school board members Tim Mellott and David Smith.

Under curriculum, ninth-grade students were given permission to travel to the Fulton County Area Vocational-Technical School in McConnellsburg on January 27 in order to explore different career and curriulum options. The trip is scheduled for 8:10 a.m. to 3:10 p.m.

The Fulton County Center for Families is slated to hold its fourth annual Fulton County Kids Fest at the elementary on May 19 between 7:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Board members held a brief discussion on whether or not to hold a sale of used and unwanted items by sealed bid or through a local auctioneer. It was pointed out that the district holds the right to refuse any or all sealed bids and, in comparison, would have to pay a percentage to an auctioneer.

A motion to sell the Rockwell freestanding grinder, two Rockwell drill presses, two Woods lawn mowers, a John Deere mower, a six-cylinder diesel engine and an overhead garage door and opener by sealed bid passed on a 7-1 rollcall vote. Board member Danny Crouse voted against using the sealed bids, and fellow member Sam Souders was unable to attend last week’s meeting.

Facilities Manager Mike Shaw reported on leaking and defective heating/cooling valves in one classroom as well as the progress of upgrades to a vo-tech classroom. Shaw stated until money becomes available to address electrical and HVAC needs, the project is at a standstill. He indicated around $15,000 would be needed to finish the job. To date the school has spent $8,400 and is expected to receive $10,000 in reimbursement from the vo-tech.

Board member David Smith questioned why the project was started without a finish date and an overall cost. Following additional talk regarding funding and board approval, Smith concluded that the superintendent should be permitted to do her job and he was not on the board to micromanage.

On a motion by Tim Hull and Smith, the board agreed to take $15,000 from the district’s capital reserve fund to complete the classroom. Crouse and Dale Sigel dissented during the 6-2 roll-call vote.

Just prior to heading behind closed doors to discuss negotiations, Crouse posed a question regarding teacher salaries and benefits. It was noted an average teacher salary at Southern Fulton is $50,000 in addition to a benefits package beginning at $13,000.

Board president Tim Mellott announced Negotiations Committee meetings were currently scheduled for January 18 and 24. The meetings are not open to the general public.

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