The Milbank School District Board of Education met in regular session Monday, February 8. The board gave approval to let bids for a $300,000 to $400,000 LED lighting retrofit project for the middle school and high school buildings. The bids will call for replacing existing lights with LED lights. “Annual savings to the district is projected to be $45,000 per year when you combine the annual energy savings of $27,000 and maintenance savings,” stated Superintendent Tim Graf. “The return on our investment is estimated to be 7.54 years.”
Graf said the project would also likely qualify for a 40 cents per watt rebate from Otter Tail, totaling an additional $45,000. “I believe we also now have an opportunity to be able to access some energy funds at 0% interest,” he stated. He added that a $350,000 loan might be available at 0% interest for five years. Several months ago, the board authorized applying for QZAB funding to finance the project. Graf informed the board that it appeared doubtful that the district would qualify for further QZAB funding.
Graf reviewed the financial status of the general fund. “At this point, we have spent 47.75% of budgeted expenditures compared to 46.28% in 2015.” After doing an object comparison, Graf said supplies, utilities, repairs and maintenance spending was higher than last year. “We are spending at a significantly higher rate than a year ago on supplies. At the elementary level, we have already spent more than we had budgeted for the entire year,” Graf said. He explained the supplies budget was decreased for this year, which could account for this, and noted that it is not a major concern, but something everyone will need to watch closely. Graf also said if the spending continued at the current rate, the district would still be below 100% of budgeted expenditures.
The board discussed the education bills introduced during the current legislative session. “The majority of the focus and conversation has been centered on the Governor’s plan for teacher compensation,” Graf said.
The district’s participation in the Northern Plains Insurance Pool was also discussed. Because of changes to the Affordable Care Act, the current structure of the pool cannot continue. “If a significant number of schools dropped from the pool, this could have ramifications for those of us who remain,” said Graf. As a result, a proposal was discussed with the board that would include partial self-funding. No decisions or actions were taken by the board, but each school will vote to stay or leave the pool in March.
In other action items, the board approved keeping the fee for drivers education at $250 and set snow make-up days for the 2016-2017 school year. The first two snow days will not be made up. If a third snow day occurs on or prior to March 15, that day would be made up on April 13. The next three snow days would be made up at the end of the year – May 24, 25 and 26.
The board also amended the 2016-2017 calendar. School will not be in session the Friday before Martin Luther King Day (January 13, 2017), but the staff will have an inservice day. Students will attend school on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, January 16, 2017. “The Friday before Martin Luther King Day is also the day of the Grant County Farm and Home Show,” explained Graf. “By not having school that day, it will eliminate some parking and congestion and allow the vendors to better utilize our facilities.”
The board approved the resignation of middle school teacher Paula Brakke. Brakke came to Milbank in 1978. Prior to that, she taught one year in Keystone and five years in Eagle Butte.
The board appointed Tracy Upton as representative on the Consolidated Board of Equalization. A meeting is set for April 12.
The board set a special meeting for Monday, March 7, at 6 p.m. to discuss negotiations. The lighting bids will also be reviewed.
The next regular board meeting will take place Tuesday, March 15, at 5:30 p.m. in the board room at Central Office.