School board OKs spending on upkeep with reservations|
On a split vote, the Antigo school board Tuesday authorized spending up to $400,000 from the district fund balance to cover deferred maintenance projects, but there are conditions.
At its regular monthly session, the board voted 6-2 to transfer $400,000 from the fund balance for deferred maintenance projects, but stipulated that the dollars not be earmarked until after the district receives an audit of district buildings expected early next year.
Opposed were Beth Bockes and Joe Kretz, who suggested action could be delayed until after the report, which was commissioned from CESA No. 10, is received.
District Administrator Don Childs explained that the action does not spend the money. It only authorizes the district to use up to that amount once the report is received. A list of potential projects, and costs, will still need to be reviewed and approved.
Childs said that despite a hazy future for some of the elementary buildings, they cannot be allowed to degrade now.
“Something has to be done to maintain them while a whole plan is put into place,” Childs said.
Board members agreed, with Jim Schulz suggested that years of limited maintenance are beginning to take their toll.
“It’s a matter of stewardship,” Schulz said.
Although regular maintenance is ongoing at all the schools, the district has been forced to defer major maintenance projects such as roofs and air handling systems due to budget shortfalls caused by the state revenue caps. The capital project long-term plan currently stands at $4 million.
The district’s fund balance—which represents assets over liabilities— stands at $5.6 million, a reasonable amount, officials said, that follows long-standing policies and covers cash flow needs.
In other matters, the board referred potential policy changes for filling board vacancies proposed by Jessica Meade to the Committee on Instruction for review.
The proposed policy would fill the post through a sequence of ballots, with the lowest vote-getter in each round eliminated from consideration. If no candidate eventually received a majority of votes, then a motion to defer the appointment could be made.
The current policy only states that a majority vote of the board in session at the time of the selection meeting is required for an appointment.
The district has been stymied 4-4 on several attempts to fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of Dr. Karl Niedermann in September. At its last meeting, a marathon, close-to-five hour affair, members agreed to temporarily vacate existing policy and leave the seat open until the April election.
Frustration over that inability to fill the seat resurfaced again Tuesday.
“We are suppose to be adults in here and conduct ourselves like adults,” Gary Jaje said “We’re acting just like our government is acting.”
Jaje added that while certain candidates were unacceptable to half the panel, “I can’t believe eight people can’t sit down and come up with a candidate to serve for four months.”
In other matters, the board approved a technology purchase plan and began the process by inking bids for access points, switches and servers for the elementary schools. Camera Corner of Green Bay was the successful low bidder at $32,306.
The board also accepted the retirement of Roger Gut as special education teacher at the Middle School and Ron Peterka as custodian at North Elementary School.
During the public comment portion of the evening, the board heard from retired educator Sheryl Perkins and past board member Andy Merry, who were among the candidates for the recent vacancy.
Perkins noted that with the election in April, the board’s best option would be to leave the vacancy unfilled for now. If any policy changes are considered, she suggested they revolve around appointing the next-highest finisher in the most recent election to fill vacancies.
Perkins said the board is attempting to do its best, “but at times you get hung up. Let’s move on folks.”
Merry addressed the proposal to used fund balance dollars for deferred maintenance, suggesting that the board wait until after the CESA No. 10 report, and surveys from the task force.
He also urged the district to develop a formal facilities plan, looking at the long-range future, before earmarking taxpayer dollars for short-term fixes.
The meeting concludes with a workshop on board governance and vision.
School board meetings are videotaped and replayed on the high school cable access channel.
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