By Jordan Huether
The Gordon Rushville Public Schools Board of Education held their regular monthly meeting on Monday, September 11. All board members were present, with the exception of Kathy Willnerd.
The board held a hearing for the District 81-0010 General Fund Budget. Superintendent Lori Liggett informed the board that they were able to pay off the Rushville bond that night and that they took 7 years off of the TELP energy loans by increasing their payment amount and decreasing the interest rate. Liggett said that in putting together the budget, she kept in mind that the goal of the school board is to provide quality education without overburdening the taxpayers in the process.
This is the second year the district has not received any state aid, which used to amount to between $1-$3mm annually. Despite that, they were able to lower the total tax levy from 95¢ to 85¢, to collect about $260,000 less in taxes with the $55mm increase in valuation for the district, which Liggett noted was not something the school had control of. The bottom line, Liggett said, is the budget is less this year, the levy is lower, the tax request is less, and they’re still not dipping into their reserves.
On paper, the school is budgeting $17mm this year, “although we will never spend that much,” Liggett said. After budgeting $17mm last year, the school ended up spending between $10- $11mm. The reason for $17mm is, “if it’s not on this piece of paper, we can’t spend it,” Liggett explained. An example she gave was, if the school was gifted several million dollars for anything or received an unexpected grant, they couldn’t spend it unless it were already accounted for in the budget.
School Board President Mark Kruger told Liggett, “I think you did a super job, especially with no state aid last year.”
With no changes to the budget, and no-one from the public present, the budget hearing was closed at 5:18 p.m. The board next opened a public hearing for the final tax request, which closed at 5:23 with no comments from the public. Later in the meeting, the board approved both the final budget for the 2017-18 school year, as well as the final tax request as they were presented.
During administrative reports, high school principal Nathan Livingston told the board that enrollment was at 194. The FAFSA opens in October this year. Students in theater and one acts will attend a theater day at CSC. Wegner questioned the consistency of school photos, with different photographers covering the different schools and offering different packages. Livingston explained that the school doesn’t hire the photographers, they just provide a space for them to come in and offer their services.
Middle school principal Matt Stetson noted they had about 25 boys out for football and that there were enough kids out for cross country to qualify as a team. Stetson added that the middle school would release early on homecoming day so the kids could partake in the festivities.
Rushville Elementary Principal Scott Plummer told the board that preschool enrollment had dropped from the expected 32 students to 27, but that he felt it was still important to keep the split classes to not leave any kids out. “Every dollar you spend returns about seven in early childhood,” Plummer told the board. Plummer noted that there are only nine second graders this year.
Gordon Elementary Principal Casey Slama said enrollment is down by ten from last year at 184 students. The kids are getting ready for testing.
Activities Director Ward Wacker was not present, as he was preparing for a home JV football game vs Chadron. Liggett noted that Wacker took several Mustangs Committed students to the movie theater for a work day the previous Wednesday. Wacker planned to attend a meeting to discuss football scheduling and classification for the upcoming seasons.
During Liggett’s report, she told the board that she applied for a pilot program on resiliency, and how to deal with adversity and life outside of school. Dr. Joel Adler will be coming Oct. 26 to talk to the 6-12th graders about suicide prevention and bullying. His presentation will be followed by a group activity on the topic lead by Dr. Cate Jones-Hazeldine and the school’s counselors.
WNCC is considering options for adult education in the community. Representatives of the community college will be returning to Gordon this fall to continue talks with the school and other community leaders. The school is taking a break from the Head Start collaboration to reevaluate how both entities can benefit in the future.
The district will be selling the playground equipment at the Merriman location to Cody Kilgore for the fair market value of $1,500.
The school’s ‘99 school bus broke down at Alliance on the way to Bayard recently. Alliance lent them a bus to get to Bayard and back home, but Liggett suggested purchasing a gently used bus as soon as possible. She added that they were finally able to secure bus drivers.
The district will be selling the properties at Merriman, Golden Spade, Extension and Lakeside in an absolute auction through Lashley Land and Recreation Brokers. The live auction will be held at 10 a.m., Monday, October 9 at the Gordon American Legion.
The middle school music room is expected to be completed by the end of September or early October.
Gordon Elementary is looking at securing its main entry with a secondary wall inside with a secure door and buzzer, effectively creating a holding area. The board approved the project, which is expected to cost about $12,0000.
The board set non-resident tuition for the school year at $14,882.13, which is required, but is basically a formality, Liggett explained. The next regular meeting will be held Tuesday, Oct. 10 at 4 p.m., with a BOE retreat scheduled from 9:00 am - 3:00 pm that day.