The Farmington School Board met Tuesday evening to discuss ways to cut the budget and the use of textbooks.
The first topic was the budget and a chance to see if there was any way to make some cutbacks.
Dave Buerck asked about the Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, and what is being done since the district did not meet requirements last year. He asked if any adjustments have been made to change that?
“We are going to direct educating in that area with some of the stimulus money. We haven’t necessarily pulled the trigger on some things because some scores are not in yet, but we are looking at areas to work on. When the bar is raised each year you have to keep adjusting,” answered Assistant Superintendent Jeff Williams.
“We look at individual students to see their grades and attendance from seventh thru ninth, if necessary. We use benchmarks to make sure students stay on task and we have had a lot of success with the students and this program. We also have academic labs where students are helped by tutors,” added Farmington High School Principal Matt Ruble.
The statewide average spent to educate a student is $9,300, and Farmington averaged about $7,700, according to Buerck. “This board and future boards will have to deal with this. We will have to look at the tax rate carefully and analyze.”
Jane Bates asked about the insurance, consultant fees and broker fees for the district, and if the district could afford to cut back those items in the budget.
Don Eaton, finance director, advised Bates that he would not recommend getting rid of those expenses because it saves the district money in the end. He continued to add that even though they pay a broker one percent and a consultant $600 a month for services, they save the district more than that in their insurance costs.
“It’s an independent person who evaluates proposals and he’s very knowledgeable. He helps give the district extra help with their insurance questions or problems and goes the extra mile to help,” added Eaton.
Bates then asked if the teachers buy their own supplies for their classrooms.
“The elementary schools’ budget wasn’t cut this past year and has been the same for the last couple years,” said Williams.
“The teachers are given money in the beginning of the year to get their rooms put together. They are given the money remaining throughout the year as they need. However, some teachers use their own money rather than asking the school for money to purchase items,” said Sheryl Robinson, Jefferson Elementary principal.
The next topic was the issue of textbooks for some of the upper level classes. Bates asked whether or not students had textbooks for all classes.
“Students do have the ability to take books home for the night to do work if they need to. They get books when they are needed,” added Ruble.
“Textbook companies write books to sell to certain states and they don’t write specifically for Missouri. However Missouri has the MAP test and it is one of the most rigorous tests. We had to look at whether they use books or learn other ways. Students don’t bring home books like they used to because the books don’t cover some of what they are tested on,” Supetindent Dr. W.L. Sanders explained.
The Farmington School Board will hold another meeting next Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. to approve the budget. The meeting will be held at the school board building on Ste. Genevieve Avenue.