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School board approves withdrawal of renovation funds

June 15, 2010
ALTON — School board members approved the withdrawal of capital reserve and trust funds in support of an upcoming renovation project and also voted to accept more than $700,000 in unanticipated grant funding following a brief public hearing Monday night.

Superintendent Kathy Holt and Business Manager Kathy O'Blenes presented the board with a worksheet listing a number of federal grants the district recently received, including:

-$97,161.17 in Title I funding for the 2010 fiscal year, along with an additional $72,417.59 in American Recovery and Re-investment Act (ARRA, or stimulus) funding for Title I programs;

-$124,505 in IDEA funding, plus an additional $140,036 in ARRA funds for IDEA programs;

-$3,990.60 in funding for pre-school special education programs, along with an additional $8,818.17 in ARRA funds;

-$64,398 in Title II-D funding for Technology, plus an additional $132,347 in ARRA funds, as well as a Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) grant for Technology in the amount of $27,777;

-$6,128.25 in Title IV funding for safe and drug free schools; and

-$58,521.04 in Title II-A funding for professional development expenses pertaining to Highly Qualified Teacher certifications.

All told, the grants accepted by the board totaled $736,099.82.

The board also conducted a public hearing Monday night on its plans to withdraw a total of $268,726 from a series of existing expendable trust funds, and from the district's FY10 end-of-year fund balance, to cover the cost of renovating the middle school bathrooms, replacing the windows along the outside of the middle school wing, and installing new lighting in the gymnasium and art room — a project set to begin once school lets out for the summer.

Proposing a few last-minute changes to the original plan, Holt recommended that the $5,438 cost of installing a new air conditioning system in the school's server room (which was not part of the bid process, but which she felt needed to be done) be taken from end-of-year funds rather than from the district's Buildings and Grounds Expendable Trust Fund, as originally proposed.

Holt also informed the board that Chip Krause of CMK Architects, who put the original bid package together, had recommended a change in the type of window that will be installed during the renovation project.

While Krause had initially proposed 1125 Series windows because of their high R value (or ability to trap heat), she explained, he later realized that they would dramatically reduce the amount of light coming into middle school classrooms.

At Krause's recommendation, Holt and O'Blenes had altered the original bid by switching to 925 Series windows, which have a slightly lower R value than 1125s, but will not reduce the amount of natural light in the classrooms nearly as much.

Agreeing with Holt's recommendations, the board later approved the withdrawal of $115,504.74 from the Window Replacement Expendable Trust Fund established during the 2005-06 school year; $69,302.42 from the Bathroom Refurbishment Expendable Trust Fund established that same year; $66,741.84 from the Buildings and Grounds Expendable Trust Fund established by voters in 2008; and $17,177 from the FY10 end-of-year fund balance.

The Window Replacement and Bathroom Refurbishment funds will have been depleted by the conclusion of this summer's renovations.

Odds and ends

In other business, the board approved the hiring of a new second grade teacher for the 2010-11 school year only, and approved the 2010 summer school schedule.

As the board discussed possible future agenda items, Vice Chair Terri Noyes asked whether end-of-year expenditures would be finalized at the next board meeting. Holt confirmed that they would be.

Commenting that she had recently attended this year's Kindergarten graduation ceremony, and thought the metal folding chairs set up for audience members looked "horrible," Noyes asked whether it would be possible to look into using end-of-year funds to re-paint the chairs (which she said she would be hesitant to sit in if she were wearing white or khaki-colored pants).

Board member Krista Argiropolis said she was recently approached by a parent who raised concerns about the safety of students playing on the basketball court behind the school, who often end up chasing runaway balls into the nearby parking lot, and asked whether it would be possible to place some type of fencing or removable barrier around the basketball court.

Principal Bonnie Jean Kuras said she had asked Buildings and Grounds Director Karl Ingoldsby to look into the matter.

Noyes commented that there is currently $25,000 in the district's Security and Safety trust fund that could be put toward the cost of a fence around the basketball court.

Returning to a concern she had raised in the past — the safety of students who have to leave the modular classrooms on the far side of the building in order to use the bathrooms inside the school — board member Sandy Wyatt asked whether it would be possible to fence in the open area they pass through.

Noyes suggested that Kuras bring Wyatt's concerns to the school's Safety Committee.

Next meeting

The board's next meeting has been scheduled for Monday, June 28, at 6 p.m. in the middle school library.

Brendan Berube can be reached at 569-3126 or bberube@salmonpress.com

Martin Lord Osman
Brewster Academy
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