Roland-Story school board approves FY 2017 budget

Todd ThorsonStaff

The Roland-Story school board approved the fiscal year 2017 budget at the regular meeting held Monday night (April 11). The budget includes a new tax rate of $12.02 per thousand dollars of taxable property valuation; a reduction of $.08 from FY 2016.

“This budget reduces the property tax burden on local taxpayers for a sixth consecutive year,” said Superintendent Matt Patton.

The taxable valuation for the Roland-Story district is $289,100,756, which is an increase of $12,939,223 from last year.

“This is a significant increase and will have a positive impact on lowering the overall school tax rate for our local taxpayers,” stated Patton.

The tax rate includes the Insturctional Support Levy, the PPEL Levy, the management levy and the tax rate for long-term bond obligation repayment (debt service).

Patton also said by maximizing the district’s spending authority in the budget, it will hopefully avoid the potential need to amend the budget at a later date.

By comparison, other surrounding districts’ 2015-16 tax rates were higher than Roland-Story’s and are listed as follows: Gilbert, $17.84; Nevada, $16.81; Colo-Nesco, $14.78; Ames, $14.20; and South Hamilton, $13.21. South Hamilton also recently passed a $9.9 million bond vote, so that district’s tax rate will be increasing.

Further breakdown of the budget included total cash reserve and debt services levies of $0. The Management Levy equals $300,000. The Physical Plant and Equipment (PPEL) Levy will continue at the voter-approved $1.34 and a board-approved $.33, which will generate a combined $536,347. The Instructional Support Levy will amount to $664,207. The total requested income surtax rate will be 8 percent (5 percent for instructional support and 3 percent for the PPEL).

The budget that was proposed was based on the assumption of a 2 percent state supplemental aid amount. Since the time of publishing the budget, the state legislature passed a 2.25 percent increase in state supplemental aid.

Teachers’ Contract

With a three-year agreement already in place with the Roland-Story Education Association (RSEA), the teacher’s group did not opt to open their master contract for discussion this year. Last year the board approved a three year agreement, which provided the teachers with a total package increase of 3.5 percent each year of the three-year period. Thus, the board approved the new contract for the RSEA at 3.5 percent once again, which includes adding $609 to the base salary, plus step advancement, longevity incentive, an insurance increase, and social security, medicare and IPERS increases.

Superintendent Patton also said that a larger than expected increase in health insurance of 15.5 percent accounted for approximately 1 percent of the 3.5 percent total package.

In addition, the board also approved a classified and administrative salary increase of 2 to 2.5 percent. This ncludes all other employees, such as cooks, custodians, bus drivers, secretaries, associates and administrators.

Buildings and Grounds

The school board also took action on a number of building projects, including the replacement of a section of the roof at the Roland Middle School. The bids received for the new roof portion came from Central States Roofing of Ames, $111,80, and Academy Roofing of Des Moines, $106,500. The project includes two northwest sections of the middle school roof. Following discussion, the board approved the low bid from Academy Roofing. With the Haila Architecture’s fees and contingencies included, the total cost of the roof project will amount to $128,820.

The roof replacement will be completed this summer and will be paid for with funds from the PPEL.

Also approved was a bid from Peterson’s Floors of Story City to replace carpeting throughout the three educational centers. Included in the project will be two classrooms at the elementary ($4925.82), four classrooms at the middle school ($8,037.58) and the tile baseboard on the upper level at the high school ($5,584.70). Also part of the project will be carpet replacement that was already a part of the high school library renovation ($19,930.68). Total amount for all four of these projects is $38,478.78.

Baker Group of Des Moines was given approval to extend the downspouts at the high school at a cost of $9,944. Currently, the roof drain water is being released onto the ground on the east side of the high school.

“The situation is causing significant erosion, and along with the tree cover, is prohibiting us from growing grass in the area,” explained Patton. “The solution, which includes the install of PVC pipe and concrete, would carry the water directly to the street, allowing us to clean up the east side of the building and replanting grass seed.”

PPEL/SAVE funds will be used for the project and will also be completed this summer.

Having already approved bidding for the replacement of the district’s wireless internet system a few months ago, pending the approval of federal E-Rate funding, Dan Rader, the district’s Director of Technology, recently received several bids for the project. Upon review, the board elected to approve EmbarkIT of West Des Moines’ bid of $68,098 to replace and upgrade the wireless system through the district’s educational centers, dependent upon the federal E-Rate grant approval, which would fund the project. The next E-Rate funding period is from 4/1/2016 to 9/30/2017.

Patton did emphasize, however, that even by the board accepting a vendor, it does not officially approve the project unless the E-Rate funding comes through.

Seven total bids were received for the internet system replacement and upgrade, ranging from EmbarkIT’s low bid up to $145,833.

In other business, the board:

—approved the list of seniors for graduation, which is scheduled for Sunday, May 22;

—approved requests for foreign exchange students for next school year; one from the Netherlands (who will stay with Robin and Jody DePenning) and one from Germany (who will stay with Patrick and Tiffany Earll);

—approved five open enrollments in for 2016-17 - one from South Hamilton, two from Gilbert and two from Hubbard-Radcliffe. There was also two open enrollments out to Ames for next school year;

—accepted, with regrets and appreciation, the resignations of Andrea Zalaznik, high school math, associate and coach; Karen Gogerty, middle school secretary; Sierra Finley, preschool special education associate;

—approved the 2016-17 contracts for Tanner Stutzman, high school vocal teacher and musical/vareity show director; Phil Skamser, 4th grade teacher (replaces Chad Gilroy); and Nancy Anderson, preschool special education associate (replaces Sierra Finley).