District finds savings loophole
A handful of Tonganoxie school district educators submitted their letters of retirement to the Tonganoxie School Board.
At Monday’s meeting, the board rehired them.
The scenario allows the teachers to begin receiving Kansas Public Employees Retirement System benefits, while also still being able to work in the district at a negotiated salary. Retirement is effective June 1; the rehire is effective Aug. 1, as KPERS criteria require a 60-day period between retirement and rehire.
Before the current school year, Kansas teachers could teach in the same district from which they retire at a ceiling of $20,000 while receiving KPERS retirement benefits.
Now, however, there is no ceiling.
According to Superintendent Kyle Hayden’s calculations, the scenario will save the district about $60,000 in 2010-11 by rehiring the teachers at a lower salary rate.
Hayden said there was dialogue with teachers who were approaching retirement about the possible rehire and the understanding that the position would be advertised and the hire would be made from the field of applications.
“We felt like that is truly following equal opportunity employment law,” Hayden said.
He said it was a win-win situation, as teachers would be able to retire but would have the possibility of being rehired working in the same position while also receiving full retirement benefits. The district, in the process, reduces paying salary by 30 percent minimum, Hayden said.
Teachers submitting retirement letters were: Andy Gilner, THS social studies and drivers education instructor; Randy Kraft, THS agriculture education instructor; Pam Lamb, THS family and consumer sciences teacher and FCCLA adviser; Mark Mall, THS math instructor; and Kathy Walker, THS counselor.
“The fact we selected the same teachers is testimony to the fine job they’ve done over the years, whether it be in the classroom or extracurricular activities and the expertise and leadership they bring to the building,” Hayden said.
The superintendent also said he expected more teachers probably would be eligible and would be considering retirement in hopes of being rehired.
The board approved the measure unanimously, 6-0, with Diane Truesdell being absent.
Cuts for 2010-11 discussed
With the state budget crisis continuing as the economy continues to sputter, talks of a maximum of $750,000 in budget reductions were discussed at Monday’s meeting.
Some areas Superintendent Kyle Hayden proposed as possible cuts were:
• Transportation. $50,000 by reducing pay to ride transportation.
• Summer school. $20,000 by eliminating TMS and THS programs.
• Administrative staff. $40,000 with the retirement of Richard Erickson.
• Freeze on all staff salaries for the second consecutive year.
• Athletics staff. $25,000 by eliminating six positions.
Larger cuts, which would need board action before May 1, would be extending the school day 15 minutes and reducing the school year by five days, would save about $50,000, while cutting support staff by four positions would save $70,000. The largest cut, if necessary, would be eliminating 10 positions of certified staff and programs, which translates to $400,000.
Independent auditor’s report
A representative from Lowenthal, Webb and Odermann in Lawrence presented his findings of an independent audit of financial statements for the school district.
Auditor Brian Nyp noted there was no mismanagement of a financial, accounting, reporting or auditing matter. The auditor reported that no such disagreements arose during the course of the audit of mismanagement.
“I think we get good feedback from Kyle and the rest of the staff,” Nyp said, referring to superintendent Hayden.
They’re really striving to do a good job and make sure things are in order.
Some suggestions that came about from the audit:
• The district implement a capital asset and supply inventory policy.
• Because it is not district practice to authorize activity fund fundraisers and that tracking of fundraiser revenues and expenditures have not been completed for current activity fund fundraisers, auditors recommended that the district create a policy requiring each activity fund fundraiser be authorized and that revenues and expenditures be tracked for each fundraiser by the activity fund bookkeepers.
• Several bank account and other organizations were identified as using the district’s taxpayer identification number. It’s recommended that those groups remove their accounts from the district’s taxpayer ID number. Small grants also are placed in those accounts. The audit recommended those revenues be counted in the district’s gifts and grants fund.
• Timesheets of police officers who provide security for district events be signed off by the police chief, as they are not currently.
• Recommended the district approve accounting and internal control policies over payroll disbursements.
Resignations, hires accepted
The board approved the resignations of transportation coordinator David Clayton, THS physical education instructor Jennifer Murczek and TMS athletics director and middle school track coach Phil Jeannin.
Clayton’s last day with the district was Monday.
Jeannin and Murczek will finish May 26. Murczek also is resigning as freshman volleyball and assistant girls soccer coach effective in May.
Murczek’s family is relocating to Texas, while Jeannin has accepted a position with the Tonganoxie Recreation Commission. A longtime physical education teacher in the Tonganoxie school district, Jeannin served a total of 37 years in the district.
Hires also were approved: Debbie Allen as special education transportation paraprofessional and Teri Richert and Monica Wise as bus route drivers for the remainder of the school year.
The board also approved the hire of Stephanie Wittman, physical education teacher for the 2010-11 school year.
Facilities and grounds report
Westar Energy is looking into the middle school to study why an unusually large number of light ballasts have needed to be replaced recently. Westar has installed a meter to the electric power entering the building to gauge whether power spikes might be the culprit.
TED Systems is doing the annual fire inspection for all buildings. Replacing the former company, G&P Systems, results in a savings of $1,400.
A sink leaking at the elementary school caused water to pool behind the wall. When the wall was opened to expose the vent line, the trapped water had a strong odor. An environmental company inspected the situation and proper chemicals were used to prevent bacterial growth. Wet cabinets have been removed to prevent mold or mildew issues and the odor appears to have been eliminated.
Finally, a trade-in of a mower is being negotiated, with net cost expected to be about $6,000.
The board met in executive session for a total of one hour, 15 minutes to discuss personnel. For the first 30 minutes, the board also met to discuss attorney-client privilege. Hayden met for all but five minutes of the executive session, while THS principal met with the board for 21 minutes, TMS principal Jill Dickerson for 17 minutes and TES principal Tammie George for four minutes.
District conducting survey
The school district will be conducting an online parent/staff survey to collect feedback about how the district is performing. The survey has about 50 questions and will be available during parent/teacher conferences Wednesday, Feb. 18 and Thursday, Feb. 19 and to staff during the final week in February. Results will be shared with the community and the district will utilize information for school improvement purposes. Computers will be set up at the conferences for parents.