By Steve Woodhouse Editor
The Journal Express
---- — With no one from the general public, outside of the media and school personnel, and three of five board members in attendance, the Knoxville School Board approved its fiscal year 2013-14 budget.
A public hearing was held prior to the budget’s approval. During the hearing, Business Manager Craig Mobley explained that the budget is based on the most conservative effort, one in which there is no increase in funding from the state. The Legislature had not finalized the level of increased funding prior to Monday’s meeting.
Sen. Amy Sinclair, who represents Knoxville in the State Senate, is a member of the conference committee charged with finding a compromise on school funding. The Senate would like to see a 4 percent increase, while the House seeks 2 percent. The committee met Tuesday, and she reported that nothing was accomplished. Another meeting was scheduled for Wednesday at noon.
School Board President Leslie Miller said the board is challenged by the Legislature’s lack of settlement. She added that the board does not know other costs, including pay levels for staff. The board and the Knoxville Education Association still have not reached an agreement on a Master Contract for the coming school year.
The budget Mobley proposed certified the property tax rate at the highest it could possibly be. Miller complimented his efforts to adapt to the unknowns facing the board.
“Craig’s been very, very helpful,” Miller said.
The board was required to certify its budget to the state by April 15, one month after cities and counties were required to have their budgets submitted. Board Vice President Mike Helle believes the Legislature should change the due date, as the state funding level has not been settled in years past.
“That would be the fairest way to all schools,” Helle said. Knoxville Schools’ property tax levy will be $15.495 per $1,000 of taxable valuation. That levy could decrease if the level of state funding is increased.
Other school board notes:
• Board members Stephanie Vickroy and Mark Mahoney were absent.
• Accepted the resignation of Justin Kraber, high school study hall monitor, effective April 12.
• Approved the 2013-14 school calendar. School will start on Aug. 19. The board also approved an application to the state for the ability to start classes that soon.
• Accepted a bid from Lang Construction of West Des Moines in the amount of $297,400 to replace a cooling tower at the high school. The board has discussed this in depth at past board meetings. The cooling tower has not been replaced since the building opened in 1996. With the construction of the Knoxville Performing Arts Center underway, this was an opportune time for the replacement.
• Approved a change order for the Knoxville Performing Arts Center in the amount of $10,726 for a digital audio mixer. Change orders thus far for this project have totaled around $62,000, much less than the board set aside for contingencies. The board has allowed Superintendent Randy Flack to sign off on change orders below $10,000. Anything above has come before the board for approval.
• Approved the following sharing agreements with area districts:
-Chariton for a teacher librarian.
-Pleasantville for a teacher librarian, the Alternative High School and boys’ and girls’ soccer.
-Twin Cedars for the Alternative High School.
-Melcher-Dallas for the Director of Nutrition Services.
-Indianola for boys’ and girls’ swimming.
-Pella for the Alternative High School and high school academic programs.
• Granted tentative approval for the FCCLA trip to Nashville, Tenn. (See related article.)
• Approved football camps.
• The next regular board meeting will be Monday, April 22, at 5:30 p.m., in the KHS Media Center.