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November 14, 2012

B-R to transfer funds


The Barr-Reeve Board of School Trustees approved a $250,000 appropriation Tuesday at its regular meeting that will allow the corporation to close out the 2012 year fiscally.

Superintendent Travis Madison explained the corporation has the money but must get approval from the state Board of Local Government Finance to move it into the General Fund to pay for remaining expenditures.

“Ninety percent of our spending is from the General Fund,” he said. “We have to appropriate for each fund, and funds can’t cross.”

He said the budget is written about 18 months in advance, making it difficult to project what will be necessary to get through the fiscal year. For example, he said there was a 12-percent increase in health insurance last year that was not calculated into the budget.

“I’m asking to spend money not estimated in the budget,” Madison said. “I try to budget low because it keeps the tax rate low.”

In new business, the board members approved renewal of health insurance through Dunn and Associates, with which the corporation currently carries insurance. Madison said the company’s bid was the only one received that was comparable to last year.

“The renewal came back with a 9-percent increase in the premium,” Madison said. “It’s not going to go down any more the way things are going in the health industry.”

He added that a new, high-deductible option may make it more palatable for staff to get family coverage. Currently, he said, the premiums are so high that few staff members opt for a family plan. The superintendent said a meeting is planned to explain the new option.

“We’ve always had a one-size-fits-all plan,” Madison said. “We only guarantee a single plan. It’s very expensive for them to have a family plan. What we’re trying to do is offer a higher deductible plan that has a lower premium.”

In an update on the early retirement incentive, Madison told the board eight teachers have consistently attended meetings on the issue. The incentive was offered to teachers earlier in the year; those who notify the corporation by Dec. 31 of their intent to retire at the end of the school year, will receive a $25,000 bonus. 

“Two have notified us via writing of their intent,” he said.

The incentive is a one-time buy-out, and the money is placed in the teacher’s 401A retirement account. On Tuesday, the board members approved a memo of understanding with the Classroom Teachers’ Association and an amendment that would allow the money to be put into the retirement accounts of those who opt for the buy-out.

“It’s a way to streamline costs,” Madison said of the incentive, explaining vacated positions can either not be filled or people can be hired in on the low end of the pay scale to fill them.

When the early retirement incentive was first introduced, CTA representative Donna Keller also explained teachers with dual certifications could be hired to save money.

“Those are decisions we’ll be looking at in the next few months as we prepare for the 2013 school year,” Madison said.

Several field trips were certified as educational by the board. They were: Spell Bowl Team, under the direction of Nancy Harrison, to compete at Jasper Middle School Oct. 23; Class of 2013, with Chastity Sward, to Vincennes University and an I-69 tour Oct. 25; Elementary Spell Bowl Team, under the supervision of Gwen Graber, to North Daviess Elementary School for competition Nov. 15; and the high school chorus, with Joyce Hawkins, to perform at West Baden and French Lick Nov. 30.

Under personnel, the retirement of custodian Jean Wagler, effective Dec. 3, was accepted with thanks for her 16 years of service to Barr-Reeve schools. Shifts in custodial staff positions will fill the daytime opening left by Wagler’s retirement and leave a second-shift position open. The board approved Danyelle Widner to fill that slot.

Maternity leave was approved for Amber DeCoursey through the end of the semester, and a maternity leave extension was approved for Kendra LeRoy.

A recommendation to hire Trey Showalter as junior high science teacher was accepted by the board. An elementary teacher with a junior high science endorsement, Showalter will start next semester.

In other news:

• Madison announced the corporation was awarded a $2,000 grant by the Daviess County Community Foundation for the Camp Read-A-Lot program.

• Madison explained there will be a special election in May held by Barr-Reeve, working with the county clerk’s office, regarding a referendum. He said more information will be available over the next several weeks, a steering committee will be created, and community informational meetings will be held.

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