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August 19, 2016

This is the first issue of our newest communication tool, “M-P RollCall.” Our goal is to share quick updates and conversations with you. We want to keep you in the loop about what’s happening in and around the district. While the content and format may vary from time-to-time, the intent is to give you answers to questions that may come our way, reply to concerns that might be raised, highlight Board action or share news that might not make it home or to the media.
Our goal is to send these updates on a regular basis, roughly every two weeks: once after regular Board meetings and once as a wrap up to our monthly MPAC meetings.
First, some background: The Madison-Plains Advisory Council (MPAC) was formed in 2013 to provide a forum where our district’s stakeholders could talk openly and directly with administration and board members about issues important to them. This forum has had a huge impact on the decisions and operations of our schools since its inception.
The first MPAC meeting of this school year was earlier this week, as we typically gather the third Wednesday of the month. The next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m., Sept. 21--make a note; we’d love to have you.
Tim Dettwiller
MPAC met Wednesday and while there was a smaller group than we have had in the past (5 administrators, 4 parents, 1 teacher/parent, 3 community members and 2 Board of Education members), the conversation was lively and we dug into many significant issues.
District Treasurer/CFO Todd Mustain presented information about the five-year forecast and how two tier-busing could change our bottom line. I presented two options for two-tier busing to begin at the start of the 2017-18 year.
Here’s a brief summary of some of the overall conversation in Q-and-A format.
Question: Why is 2-tier busing so necessary now? If the funding was there several years ago, why are we just now looking into the option?
State funding has been unchanged for several years now. The Board and administration know, and appreciate, a change to our current transportation system could be difficult to some of our parents. To the credit of the Board and administration, we have held off making a change to our current transportation model to allow parents and the community to prepare for the change. We can no longer avoid the discussion of changing our current system. We are projected to face a deficit in 2019 – a scenario we have known and shared with the community since the last funding issue was renewed in 2014. This requires the district to evaluate not only the two options but to also begin a discussion about generating additional local funding for our school and when the Board will return to the ballot.
Question: Did teachers get a pay raise this year? What did the administrators get?
Answer: Yes, all employees, which means teachers, support staff and administrators received a 2% increase to their base pay for the 2016-17 school year. In addition to that, all but three positions in the district (Superintendent, Treasurer/CFO and the Director of Operations) have steps built into their salary schedules which include regular increases for experience levels. A 2% base increase is also dictated in the bargaining agreements for the 2017-18 school year for all employees.
The Superintendent’s compensation is based on merit with no automatic increases. The Treasurer /CFO’s compensation is tied to the average increase of the other administrators. The Director of Operations position has a new schedule that has four ranges of pay. This position only receives an increase in pay if the years of experience moves the employee to the next range or the Superintendent recommends, and the Board approves, an increase.
Question: What other cost-savings measures have been implemented in anticipation of the deficit in 2019?
The following are the significant changes made to save district funds since 2012:
  • An Early Retirement Incentive was offered to all staff in 2012. Savings of $200,000 per year have been realized from this.
  • Medical Insurance Cap. Working with our unions, we were able to secure a cap on the increased cost of our district provided medical benefits. The cap is currently set at 10%. This means the district is held harmless for any medical premium increases over 10%. Employee benefits are the second largest expense to the district.
  • The consolidation to a central campus decreased our building management costs significantly. 
  • We evaluate each position once vacated to determine if we need the position, can the work be absorbed by someone else or can be contracted out more cost-effectively. 
  • Our administrative restructuring over the last 4 years has been a big savings to the district. Under the district consolidation we eliminated one principal position. In 2015/16 we eliminated 2 principal positions and created 2 assistant principal positions. This change saved over $50,000 annually for the district. Recently, the administrative work formerly completed by the Director of Maintenance was absorbed by the Director of Technology and re-titled the Director of Operations for an annual savings of more than $27,000.

Question: Does the administration want to change school colors or the golden eagle logo?
The board and the administration are NOT considering a change to our school colors or the golden eagle logo. The parent who asked the question noted to the group that when she hears a question or concern such as this, she emails the appropriate administrator and always gets a quick reply.

Question: Two-tier busing may increase the need for childcare in our district. What is the school doing in response to this issue?
I am forming a committee to research the childcare issue in our district. I currently have 2 board members, 2 administrators and a childcare provider from Mt. Sterling who have volunteered. I need at least 2 parents to serve on the committee. The committee goals will be: to determine the level of current need for before and after school childcare and degree of increased need if we go to two-tier bussing. We will also evaluate childcare options for parents in our district such as latchkey, church organizations and individual providers. If anyone is interested in serving on the committee please contact me before August 26, 2016.

The MPAC meetings are a great way to have candid conversations with the Board and administration. I invite everyone to attend at least one meeting this year. Our next meeting will be September 21, 2016. All meetings for this school year are on the front page of our website.
Thank you for listening and until next time, GO GOLDEN EAGLES!
Tim Dettwiller
Madison-Plains Local Schools
Local School District
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