School Board Approves Budget, Security Project

School BoardBy Eduardo Zamarripa, CRI Weekly News

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The Oskaloosa School Board unanimously approved next school year’s budget, and a project aimed at improving security, on Tuesday night.

Before approving the budget, the board held a public hearing for the budget but received no comments.

In the board’s meeting on Feb. 26, Board Treasurer Chad Vink said ‘headcount’ enrollment increased by 35.1 students, which is a 1.5 percent increase compared to fiscal year 2014. That’s an important figure because more students means more funding for the district.

For every student, the district will receive $6,366 in funding. That figure is up from $6,121 in FY 2014. This means the district will receive approximately $808,507 in additional allowable growth funding for next fiscal year. Allowable growth, now known as Supplemental State Aid, is the amount of funding schools receive from the state.

On Tuesday, Vink said the board is proposing a tax levy of roughly $14.96 per $1,000 of assessed taxable value, instead of the proposed $14.98 that was discussed on Feb. 26. That’s a 34-cent decrease from FY 2014. For property owners, that means the school tax levied on properties will decrease about $17.50 for a home worth $100,000.

In addition to that, the board unanimously approved the security access improvement project.

“Security within the buildings has been a hot topic in recent years. A lot because of the situations, instances, across the country,” said Oskaloosa Schools Superintendent Russ Reiter. “One of the first things we’d like to do is to have a single security system, networked, building to building. Keys, access cards, all that we can do to limit the people who are allowed to come in here at specific times.”

Reiter said his recommendation for the project is to work with Strauss Security Solutions from Des Moines.

“We think it’s time that we kind of upgrade, and update, our exterior door safety situation,” Reiter said.

Reiter said the first part of the project will be completed during the spring and summer, at the Oskaloosa High School and Middle School, and at the George Daily Auditorium. The district is planning on installing new swipe card recognition systems on 16-18 doors for a cost of $32,700. Reiter said the doors will also have a camera that is activated every time someone swipes a card.

Board member Nik Rule chimed in.

“This is probably what I’ve heard the most this year from parents. So this is great,” Rule said.

The board unanimously approved the purchase of two buses ($97,488 each). Reiter said the cost of the buses was lower than last year’s bus purchases. The board also unanimously approved a resolution to support the Oskaloosa Blue Zone certification.

“In a sense, what you’re approving tonight, just is a resolution that as a school, as a board, we’re supporting the Blue Zone here in our community,” Reiter said. “We’re going to do everything we can to not only promote, but to live the life that we’re trying to, hopefully, provide good, quality role models to our students.”

Reiter said the district will evaluate the suggestions it received from the Oskaloosa Blue Zone Project on how to promote a healthier lifestyle.

In addition to that, the board unanimously approved an agreement, along with the master contract amendments, with the Oskaloosa Education Association (OEA). Certified staff will receive a 3.68 percent salary increase. Reiter said the additional fees for health insurance are included in that increase. The OEA will now vote on approving the contract. The changes will be effective next school year.

The board also unanimously approved a 10-cent hot lunch price increase for adults. Reiter said the district’s price point for the adult hot lunch was lower than the mandated requirement. The price for an adult hot lunch will now be $3.35 starting next school year.

The board received an annual report from Mahaska County YMCA Executive Director Dawn Collins, and a presentation from the District Leadership Team (DLT).

The next school board meeting is on April 28.

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