Mountain View School Board prepares for uncertain times in latest meeting
Wed, 06/24/2020 - 9:26am admin
Brooke Phelan, contributing writer
The Mountain View School Board held a meeting on Thursday, June 18 shortly after the election of new member Eric Wells, and re-election of Keith Tharp, and Shelly Mantel.
The monthly financial report primarily discussed the benefits and downsides to The Cares Act money the district received. Put simply, the money will go towards the school year and paying teachers’ salaries from May. With this money, it is projected that the school will more than break even, but, this influx tightens the budget for the following year.
The preliminary budget presents many uncertainties stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Balances and their known effects will remain varied until June 30. The funding that comes from Proposition C is projected to be in a median range because of the state of Missouri’s current economy, but the small boost from the first stimulus package has aided in this.
The next concern in the budget pertained to the school’s attendance. Though some bigger cities get their funding from how many students are in the school, Liberty and others are paid by the hours of attendance. In 2018, attendance hours were high but began to slump in 2019 and are expected to continue declining in 2020. Once again this decline is expected to come from fears about sending kids back to school if the epidemic is still an issue. Vice President Shelly Mantel proposed discussion about online and off-site learning opportunities. Though these are an option and the school is preparing to pay for student Chromebooks thorough documentation of student-teacher interaction is needed for this online schooling to count towards attendance hours. It is also uncertain whether all students have access to the internet. Much of the effect on attendance remains unknown, but Liberty plans to run the buses as usual for at least the first week.
Tax rate and assessed evaluations will not be fully known until August, but with casino closings and the classroom trust funds they maintain going down, and the assessed evaluations being low, the school is expecting up to half a million dollars in cuts.
“We have to live off what we know is coming” commented the Superintendent Don Christensen.
The board then discussed the importance of the public being aware of where their tax money goes. If a possible tax levy is not understood by the citizens and not passed, essential foundations of the community may suffer. The board wishes to raise awareness on where the community’s money is necessary and encourage voting habits that will help keep such foundations afloat.
The next possible constraint is related to raises in teacher salary or hiring a resource officer for the next year. With the current projected budget, the board is unsure if they have the funds to support both. Board members discussed safety as a priority for Liberty, and they plan to work with the city of Mountain View for a solution. The motion to accept the preliminary budget was passed unanimously.
Principal John Daniels then began his proposal for a pass/fail system in summer school. Daniels noted how a students’ GPA would drop due to summer schools current grading system. He explained that the system should be pass/fail or not be accounted for in GPA. The motion was made and passed unanimously.
Though there remains many unknowns the Mountain View School Board prioritizes attention to detail and doing all that they can to continue educating the district's students.