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Crocker tables career ladder pending Gov. Jay Nixon’s funding decision
CROCKER, Mo. (April 30, 2010) — Faced with major state budget cuts and a smaller problem with declining local revenue, members of the Crocker R-II School Board heard proposals Thursday night to deal with budget issues ranging from asking that assistant coaches drive school buses to having staff do snow plowing to cutting or eliminating summer school.

No matter what happens, Superintendent Jim Bogle said changes in the state budget may make it impossible to plan a budget for next school year that avoids financial problems.

Year-to-date, Crocker has received about $70,000 to $90,000 less revenue than expected and that’s likely to continue next year, Bogle said.

“I’m kind of concerned; we are going to do our best to stay in the black,” Bogle said. “I don’t like to deficit spend but a lot of schools in the state of Missouri are in that because nobody anticipated what was going to happen.”

Bogle said he had worried that the “career ladder” program, in which teachers sign up to do extra duties in return for a bonus payment at the end of the year, wouldn’t be included in the state budget or a much larger local match would be required.

“The state budget has been passed on to the governor and career ladder now is in the hands of the governor for him to sign. There was a fear this was going to be a 60-40 split this year. That language is not with the governor now,” Bogle told board members. “It should be okay for this year but there’s not a guarantee until they sign it.”

Based on preliminary calculations, Bogle said that would probably cost the Crocker district $36,000 from local money, up from $32,000 last year, to match $65,000 in state funds.

That probably won’t continue next year and may be a problem for future years, Bogle said.

“I want you to be aware of what is going on,” Bogle said. “In the 2010-11 year there will probably not be career ladder but in the 2011-12 they may bring career ladder back, there is talk about that now, but it will probably be a 60-40 split with the schools paying 60 and the state paying 40 … My biggest fear was they were going to change it to 60-40 this year, which the language was originally in the bill to do that, which would have made it very difficult not just for us but for a lot of other schools to pay career ladder this year, but they did not put it in there for this year.”

Bogle said he expects to know by mid-May what state officials will do.

Responding to questions from board members, Bogle said numerous Crocker teachers had done the work for career ladder but until the governor signs the legislation, they don’t know if the school districts would be able to afford to pay them or not.

“That was the biggest problem because everybody did it,” Bogle said. “They are looking at making it mostly a 60-40 school-funded program so that way it is the schools that make a decision to cancel it.”

After a closed session meeting, school board members agreed to table the career ladder question until they know what state officials will do.

Other ways to cut costs include combining duties of staff members.

“What if we tie driving a bus to the assistant coaching position?” Bogle said. “Well, that could cut down some money in transportation. We could say, ‘We’ll pay you to drive the bus there, pay you to drive it home, and you get your coaching pay while you’re coaching the game.’”

New coaching duties approved Thursday included unanimously hiring Kelly Vogeler as the high school cheerleading coach, a 5-2 vote to hire Lee Richardson as basketball coach, and a 4-3 vote to hire Josh Booker as the baseball coach and elementary physical education teacher. Board members also approved the resignation letters of elementary aide Carissa Schroer, high school science teacher Shelia Demery, cross country coach Lori Bogle and coach Tim Hardesty.

Board members also tabled a proposal by Gene Whittle to sell a snowplow for $800 that fits on a truck the school already owns and which could be used by school employees. The district paid $1,200 last year for snow removal, Bogle said.

“Are we going to have to pay (school employees) extra to come up and plow that?” asked board member Dawn Kubinski.

Probably not, Bogle said.

“If we have a snow event they’ll get in early… (they) take a lot of pride in doing this,” Bogle said. “Then again, if we have some of the snow like we had this year, a little plow couldn’t do it.”

In other business, board members approved various program reports, paid $3,100 in dues for the Missouri School Boards Association, continued voluntary student health insurance with the Naught-Naught agency from Columbia, agreed to refinish the gym floor at a cost of $1,624 bid by Central Flooring of Lake Ozark, which has been doing the work for the last two years, adopted various policies for the district policy manual that are mostly required to comply with state law, and received a report on the school library, National Honor Society and Quiz Bowl team from Jennifer Houlehan.

Houlehan noted that it may be difficult to offer the Quiz Bowl program next year since even though the Crocker team has been successful, its members will graduate soon.

Board members also set May 7 as the date for a teacher appreciation luncheon.

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