Stratford board reviews budget

STRATFORD – The budget hearing for the 2013-2014 school year was held during the regular monthly meeting of the Stratford school board on Wednesday evening.

Tax rate for the district is 14.411 per $1,000 taxable valuation, compared with the 2012-2013 tax rate that was at 15.099. “I continue to be pleased by that rate,” Stratford Superintendent Sarah Binder told the board.

Looking at the estimated unspent authorized budget for 2013-2014 shows revenue down by approximately $100,000, mostly due to declining enrollment.

“It’s good we’ve made the budget changes we have so we can be prepared for fewer dollars,” Binder said.

Jeff Herzberg of the Prairie Lakes Area Education Association was present to review with the board the services provided by that organization. According to Herzberg, 80 percent of services provided by Prairie Lakes focuses on special needs, with the other 20 percent dealing with technology and adult professional development. He said that the Stratford school makes very good use of the services they provide, even though it is one of the smallest schools in the Prairie Lakes area.

Snow days

Other business on the varied agenda included scheduling make-up days for the six snow days needed this winter. One was made up on February 25, another on April 5, and the other four will be added at the end of the school year. Currently, the final day for classes will be June 4.

Also, three open enrollments were approved by the board, all from Southeast Webster-Grand. Two of the students will be in third grade. The other, a seventh grader, is in the Home School Assistance Program.

The only personnel matter on Wednesday’s agenda was to approve the resignation of music teacher Grace Lambert, who has taught 20 percent time at the school for five years. Her resignation is effective at the end of this school year.

In the superintendent’s report, Binder reviewed Iowa Assessment results from the recent Iowa Assessment. “We are very pleased. They are really, really good,” Binder stated. “Another thing that knocked our socks off was the gains made by the students.”

Looking at the Extended Year Summer Program, Binder reported that at this time there are approximately 40 students (ps-6th grade) who would benefit from the program. The students will be invited to participate in the program, which will be staffed by two certified teachers and two associates. The schedule will be one week in June, one week in July, and one week in August, for a total of 15 summer sessions.

Binder said she will apply for an America’s Farmers Grow Rural Iowa Monsanto grant to partially fund the Extended Year Summer Program.

There has been a very positive response to a modified summer program for children in preschool through second grade. There are 21 children/families who have responded positively that they will be using the modified summer program, which Binder said is a good use of staff and also provides good child care. It will be held in the school cafeteria due to the construction project in the ELC building.

In an update on the ELC project, Binder reported that the contractor and sub-contractors have been working on submittals. The ELC will relocate to the school cafeteria during construction, which will begin in June, if everything proceeds as planned.

Binder also updated the board on the gym project. Grant applications to the Hamilton County Foundation, Lowe’s Keep America Beautiful, and Diamond Vogel Paint Iowa Beautiful have all been submitted.

Another construction project is improving the parking lot. Two bids have been received from Fort Dodge Asphalt Company, one for 5″asphalt and the other for 6″ asphalt, but no action was taken Wednesday.

The board reviewed bids and information on security cameras and keyless door entries. Action was tabled on both, pending possible repairs needed to the gym roof.