SHERIDAN – At their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday the Sheridan School Board discussed plans to spend a surplus of $180,000 in the district’s general fund that must be encumbered by the end of this month.
Superintendent Kim Harding said that the surplus is a result of middle school and high school staff that took on additional teaching assignments last year, enabling the district to use attrition of teaching staff to conserve money. The district was also able to conserve money by taking advantage of purchasing co-ops between multiple school districts.
“According to Montana Code, we must expend or encumber these funds before June 30, 2012 or the funds will be returned to the state coffers,” Harding said.
Local taxpayers will not be given tax relief if the funds are not used, so Harding recommended the board follow the district’s 10-year plan adopted five years ago. The plan would direct the bulk of the surplus money toward paving the bus stop area at the elementary school and the repairing old siding on the high school.
“Because we have already purchased the educational supplies which will be utilized by the teaching staff and our students, we are able to use these excess funds for infrastructure,” Harding said.
The paving project is necessitated by extensive wear from foot traffic on the school’s cafeteria floor, classroom and hallway carpets and hardwood floor in the gym. The area to be paved begins at the southeast corner of the school’s parking lot and continues across the front of the elementary school, football field and loading dock before commencing at the stop sign on Poppleton Street. Initial estimates bid the cost of paving at $2.88 per square foot for a total cost of about $40,000. The cost of replacing just over 18,000 square feet of worn siding on the high school building was bid at $7.20 per square foot for a total cost just under $130,000.
“A fiscally responsible district maintains and preserves the building for which it is responsible,” said Harding. “All of this is a process in spending down our year end money.”
The board also approve hiring Carla Wisler to teach music, Heather Puckett to teach business and technology and Todd Ronnander to teach math. The board also approved hiring Sara Decker and April Wuelfing to coach varsity volleyball, Ed Burke to coach varsity football, Tammy Stewart for middle school volleyball and Bobby Wick for middle school football. The board also approved Wisler as advisor for pep band, Rodney Braaten for FFA and Roxane Shammel as advisor for the FCCLA program.
Following the meeting’s adjournment the board participated in a two-hour goal-setting workshop facilitated by Powell County High School Superintendent Rick Duncan, who shared examples of common goals from other school districts in Montana. After brainstorming ideas and reviewing the school district’s mission and vision statement, the board drafted a list of goals specific to the Sheridan School District that include a challenging and diverse learning environment, highly effective staff, communication, community support for Sheridan schools, fiscal responsibility, facility and grounds, board training, technology and beyond the walls of school.
Harding explained how having specific goals for students and teachers helps the board make tough decisions.
“It’s really important to have our goals articulated so that any time we look at a program or we look at finances or we try to make a decision about curriculum and instruction, we always have those goals as the lens through which we need to make decisions,” she said.