A primary topic of discussion at the regular meeting of the Milbank Board of Education Monday, January 11, was Governor Daugaard’s State-of-the-State Address. The address was to be presented the next day, Tuesday, January 12, and a good share of it was expected to be devoted to the Blue Ribbon Task Force Legislative Proposals. The proposals focus on a plan to increase teacher pay in South Dakota.
After the governor’s address, Superintendent Tim Graf had this to say: “Although there are some areas that I would like to see improved, I am generally very encouraged by what the Governor’s proposals include. I believe all of the education groups have given a vote of support for the plan prior to today’s speech.”
The plan completely changes the funding formula from the current per student allocation of $4,876 per student to a formula that includes a teacher pay target, ratios that vary by school size to allow for economy of scale similar to the current small school factor, general fund balance caps, elimination of the pension levy and fund, capital outlay caps, and allowing permanent flexibility of up to 20% of capital outlay for selected general fund expenditures. It will take a 2/3 majority to pass in the legislature because it centers around a sales tax increase.
“The plan will very likely change as it goes through the legislative process,” noted Graf. “They may be good changes or poor changes. Getting 2/3 majority will not be an easy goal to accomplish and will take individuals lobbying their local legislators. This is the most optimistic I have been during my career that we may have a real chance to see meaningful change in education funding in South Dakota.”
In other business, the financial status of the general fund was monitored, but Graf noted it is early in the fiscal year and only the second time the board has reviewed the fund. “We have spent 40.42% of our budgeted expenditures as opposed to 39.48% at this point last year. This is slightly higher at this point, but it is really early in the year,” he mentioned.
The board discussed the purchase of a vehicle. “There is a vehicle purchase in this year’s capital outlay budget,” said Graf. “The last vehicle purchased was the car in 2010.” Local dealers have been contacted regarding using the state bid in an acquisition of a crossover or sport utility type vehicle. The board is tentatively planning to surplus the 2002 Blue Suburban.
The board also discussed a potential policy for advertising in the schools. The Milbank School District currently does not have any such policy in place. The policy discussed will be considered as a first reading at the February meeting of the board.
The board approved a joint school, county, and city election for June 7 which will be facilitated by County Auditor Karen Layher. The Milbank Board of Education will have three positions open including a two-year position currently occupied by Amy Thue and two three-year terms by Dick Schwandt and Tracy Upton. School board petitions may be taken out on March 1 and returned by March 29 for the June 7 election.
Three open enrollment applications were approved by the board for sixth, seventh, and 11th grade students who recently moved into the Wilmot School District and are enrolled in Milbank.
Reports were given by high school principal Dan Snaza, elementary principal Tim Lease, middle school principal and special services director Kris Evje, Koch School special education director Keri Schliesman, and superintendent Graf. Noted items that were discussed included the VJ Smith lyceum, Junior Achievement, semester grades, Koch School D.A.R.E, English language arts curriculum, the January 18 inservice schedule, kindergarten screening, and the Northern Plains Insurance Pool meeting.
The next regular meeting of the Milbank Board of Education is scheduled for Monday, February 8, at 6 p.m.