Departing Nevada School Board member Mike Bates was given a plaque of appreciation, along with a lifetime pass to all future Nevada Schools’ activities, as the old board wrapped up business Monday.
Board President Marty Chitty told Bates, who served as vice president of the board, that they’d had some good years serving the citizens together. "We have used each other as sounding boards… We have not always agreed," Chitty noted, "but we have served the district reasonably well." He told Bates he would miss his "devil’s advocacy" role on the board.
Immediately following Bates departure, new board member Tori Upchurch and returning board member Dave Sutherland were sworn in by Board Secretary Brian Schaeffer to begin their new terms, and the board reorganized. Chitty was elected to continue his position as president of the board, and Laura West was elected to serve as vice president of the board. It was decided that the board will continue to meet regularly on the second and fourth Mondays, at 6:30 p.m., in the board room.
The school board reviewed the Certified Annual Report (CAR) for June 30, 2013. It was noted that the report is not yet audited.
A comparison of Fiscal Year 2013 to Fiscal Year 2012 showed the following:
• General Fund Balance: $1,526,537.44 (2013) to $1,659,617.39 (2012)
• Activity Fund: $147,112.48 (2013) to $140,174.29 (2012)
• Management Fund: -$2,024.21 (2013) to $175,465.80 (2012)
• Support Trust Fund: $7,433.46 (2013) to $4,622.10 (2012)
• Local Option Fund: $1,824,029.58 (2013) to $1,293,831.58 (2012)
• PPEL Fund: $298,086.41 (2013) to $250,563.71 (2012)
• Capital Projects Fund: $3,688,150.36 (2013) to $250,563.71 (2012)
• Debt Service Fund: $923,264.51 (2013) to $2,013,206.42 (2012)
• Enterprise (Food Service) Fund: $31,371.11 (2013) to $62,687.80 (2012)
• Trust Fund: $41,370.40 (2013) to $31.695.61 (2012)
It was noted that General Fund revenues totalled $14,737,144.98 and expenditures totalled $14,975,331.31. Therefore expenditures exceeded revenues by $238,186. Schaeffer explained in the packet, "Some of the expenditures can be attributed to a reducing in restricted fund balances (such as state-funded preschool or state- funded professional development). These restricted fund balances dropped from $401,934 in Fiscal Year 2012 to $255,106 in Fiscal Year 2013.
Board members commented on the significant drop in the food service budget, which comes from a lack of kids choosing to eat the school-prepared meals. Chitty said he hopes that the new kitchen/cafeteria and offerings will bring the participation level back.
The board also heard from High School Principal Justin Gross, who has been reviewing information about how many Nevada students are receiving college credit for courses taken during their high school years.
Gross said there are several ways that high school students can earn college credit. There are Post Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO), concurrent enrollment, career academy and online career academy courses; and there are Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
From information Gross gathered from other area school districts, he found that in last year’s graduating class, Nevada had 61 percent of its students earning some college credit. That compares to 86 percent at North Polk, 70.5 percent at Baxter, 95 percent at Greene County, 92 percent at South Hamilton, 86 percent at Gilbert and 74 percent at Roland Story. Of the schools that gave Gross information, only two - PCM and Saydel - had lower percentages.
Gross and members of the Nevada School Board are interested in looking into ways that Nevada can help its high school students to earn more college credits during their high school years, because that can be very advantageous in opening up more options once they reach college.
Gross said that he will start by talking to DMACC and some of the high school teachers who would qualify to teach concurrent enrollment courses (for college credit) about the possibilities. He said this might mean dropping the "honors" title off some classes, and replacing that with the fact that the course would allow students to earn college credit.
It was also questioned by the board about whether the high school’s current block schedule is working well for students in getting all the classes and instruction they need. This is another issue that the board may want to discuss in more detail in the future.