Rushville Republican

February 19, 2013

School board takes care of business

Marianne Scott
Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — The Rush County Schools Board of Trustees recently met and tended to several items of business.

Tom Simpson gave an energy savings program update. Statistics for May 2012 through November 2012 were presented. Since implementation, Rush County Schools are beginning to see substantial savings as a result of a more concerted effort toward energy efficiency.

Staff training and awareness coupled with weekly efficiency audits are promoting an energy conservation culture.

Four buildings are leading the way in their efforts to be energy efficient. Sizable savings in electrical, natural gas and water/sewer usage are being realized.

From May 2012 through November 2012, Rush County Schools have seen savings of 12.9 percent (or $47,308).

A technology update was given by Technology Coordinator Shawn Iverson.

He reported that we are in the midst of the E Rate season. The E Rate program provides discounts to assist most schools and libraries in the United States to obtain affordable telecommunications and Internet access. It is one of four support programs funded through a Universal Service fee charged to companies that provide interstate and/or international telecommunications services.

The Schools and Libraries Program supports connectivity, the conduit or pipeline for communications using telecommunications services and/or the Internet.

Funding is requested under four categories of service: telecommunications services, Internet access, internal connections, and basic maintenance of internal connections.

Discounts for support depend on the economic level and status (urban/rural) of the population served and range from 20 to 90 percent of the costs of eligible services. Eligible schools, school districts and libraries may apply individually or as part of a consortium.

In the past, RCS have used such funding for Internet access as well as fiber optics. Every classroom is wireless, with video streaming ability in our libraries. Wireless capabilities assist not only with classes but also with assessment functions.

Currently, RCS are maintaining and enhancing network and technology capabilities. At some point in the future, local schools may be bookless.  Currently, those involved are looking at redesigning web pages/hosting, the possibility of a new phone system, wireless policy changes, and a three year plan to move from Novell to Microsoft.

RCHS principal Matt Vance gave an update on the new Opportunity School that launches this summer. A logo, questions and answers and mission statement have been developed. Approximately 50 people have been identified as potential students.

The initial letter to prospective students (parents) is in place to be mailed mid February. A news release is in place to run at the same time in the Rushville Republican. An Opportunity School web page is ready for use (link from high school page) and will include the application form as well as assistance/contact information. The Opportunity School will follow the same calendar year as other Rush County schools.

The board approved by consent the minutes of the previous meeting, personnel report, donations received, out-of-state field trip requests, claims and payroll.

In further action, the board approved the Expenditure Category Goals and the Balancing of Appropriations for 2012.

Superintendent of schools Dr. John E. Williams gave a 2012 Fiscal Review & 2013 Fiscal Update.

The trend since 2010 is that we are seeing less of a cash balance, he said. This is due to declining enrollment and a few positions supported by other funds. There is no need to panic now, but we need to be keenly aware of this trend. What measures do we need to take to stop the erosion? Energy savings and e-rate will help with the savings. Retirements have realized some saving when we replace these positions. We need to maintain a 5 to 8 percent cash balance. We are now at 16 percent cash balance, he said.

The board considered the continuation with ECDC membership and fee. Economic Development Corporation fees have been restructured and will go from $1,000 to $3,000 per year.

Discussion followed concerning the benefits of remaining in the ECDC. It was voted to continue membership.

The 2013-2014 school calendar was approved. This is a “modified balanced calendar” and has 90 student days in each semester; a new one week fall break; two weeks at Christmas time; a one week spring break and built in snow days. Fayette County Schools has adopted the same calendar so local vocational students will not have an issue of different school days.

Important dates:

March 5: Regular board meeting at 7 p.m.

March 20: Dinner meeting with Farm Bureau

March 25 to 29: Spring Break

April 2: Regular board meeting at 7 p.m.

In other news, Mark VanNatta, (Director of Maintenance and Transportation, reported that concession stand/restrooms at the soccer field are 99 percent done. All continues to go well for an on-time completion, he said.

Karen Brown, principal at Rushville Elementary West, reported that ISTEP is in March. The District Math Bowl will be at 5 p.m. Feb. 28 in the RESW Gym.