Meeting for the first time since the school year began, the West County Board of Education recently heard reports from administrators, considered staffing decisions and set the annual property tax rate for the 2018-2019 school year.
Before beginning the August school board meeting, the board held a public hearing to give residents the opportunity to voice opinions about the property tax rate, of which none were expressed.
Getting the meeting underway, the district’s principals provided the board with reports from each of their campuses, with all three saying the school year was off to a great start. Superintendent Stacy Stevens then pointed the board’s attention to enrollment numbers which he said could eventually become concerning, if trends in the elementary class sizes continued.
“Kindergarten is at 62 and first grade is at 62,” Stevens said. “We’ve had a couple of times when we’ve had 68 or 69 over the years, but normally we’re at least low 70s to mid-80s for a class. Our 12th grade class is at 71 — but then looking at the high school numbers from there, two of the three are in the 80s. Then when you look down, we’ve got a 6th grade class of 92 and an 8th grade class of 91. When you look from 5th grade down, there’s not one in the 80s and that’s a little concerning.”
Stevens said while the numbers can change with time, it is a topic that the board will want to keep an eye on in the future.
“That’s just something you’re going to have to watch going forward,” he said. “You might be looking at, potentially, three sections instead of four. I don’t want to be accused of putting a price tag on a child, but every child generates about $4,500 for the district. When you start multiplying that out, it can add up in a hurry.”
After approving the superintendent’s and administrators’ reports, the board next voted to approve the tax rate for the 2018-1029 school year at $4.05 per $100 assessed valuation.
“I’m proud to say that it’s 20 years going that we haven’t asked our people for an increased tax rate,” Stevens said. “That’s not to say that it’s not coming at some point, but you may be able to do some things to keep that from happening for a while.”
The board next considered setting a stipend amount for the fall softball coach, which Stevens said was based upon comparing fall and spring season schedules.
“Right now, our spring stipend has been 10 percent of the base salary,” he said. “I think with the number of games we’ll play, it’ll be fewer per the schedule. Softball will play about 85 percent of the games that baseball will play. That’s not a perfect science, but we’re trying to be fair. My recommendation is to make the softball head coaching position 18 percent of the base, which would be basically 10 for the spring plus eight for fall. Right now, baseball is 20 percent of the base.”
Additionally, Stevens recommended that the board maintain the stipend amount for the assistant coach position, which would remain the same for both spring and fall seasons.
“As far as the assistant, I think the 6 percent that we do now is good,” he said. “I would suggest doing 6 percent for fall and 6 percent for spring, because we’ve had times where the two assistants were different people. You don’t want your head coach to be different in a given year, but sometimes the assistant will be different.”
The board voted to approve the recommended stipends and next considered the creation of a District/Community Liaison position for the purpose of facilitating communication between students, parents and the district in terms of extra-curricular activities.
Stevens recommended the board approve the position with a salary of 0.5 percent of the base salary, or $890, based upon the anticipated number of hours the individual would spend on the position. Stevens said the position is anticipated to be a great service to the community and should pay back dividends to the district in the future.
The board lastly discussed a future project to replace the lighting at the high school baseball field. Stevens said the district had done some work placing junction boxes in preparation for the work, which will be put out for bid in the future as the specifications are developed.
The next meeting of the West County Board of Education will take place on Sept. 20 at 4 p.m.
Jacob Scott is a reporter with the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3616 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.