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Dixon schools may get $432,000 in federal economic stimulus funds
DIXON, Mo. (March 24, 2009) — Dixon Superintendent Dawna Burrow told her board members Monday night that the Dixon R-I School District could be getting $432,000 in federal stimulus funds.

“This is federal money and that means there will be very strict guidelines on what you can use it on and how you can use it,” Burrow said. “We as an administrative team have been batting around some ideas but until we know a little more how much we are looking at, we don’t want to get carried away with spending … We probably will spend; it’s a question of how we can best spend for the district this one-time money, which is what it will be.”

Burrow warned her board members that “there are a few things that go with federal money that worry me a little bit,” citing the need for detailed tracking of the funds and the possible creation of expections for future programs as examples.

“Because it is one-time money we don’t want to add teachers and we don’t want to add programs because we want to make sure we can sustain it when it goes away,” Burrow said.

Board member Craig Sellers asked Burrow how quickly decisions will need to be made on spending.

“It seems like they want you to use it quick to stimulate the economy,” Sellers said.

Burrow said she didn’t yet have detailed information on the amount of money or the funding requirements, but would keep her board members informed as she obtains the details.

Burrow also recommended that her board members spend $18,242 to the Student Information Systems company to buy a computerized student records program with no annually recurring cost

Staying with the existing system isn’t realistic, Burrow said.

“Our student information system is still an old DOS system and needless to say, we are having to find something better and more up to date,” Burrow said.

Burrow told board members that a staff committee unanimously recommended going with SIS rather than bids from the Lumen Company for a $28,353 software package with an additional annual cost of $10,308, which would be an estimated annual cost of $12,112 over a 10-year period. or from the STI Company for a $42,855 program with an annually recurring cost of $11,856 for an average annual cost over 10 years of $12,159.

“We were just pleased overall with their program, and it ended up being a nice bonus that it’s the one that is probably going to cost us just a little bit less than the rest,” Burrow said.

Board member Robert Hill, a retired Dixon High School principal who continues to work in school systems in retirement, agreed.

“I can tell you that two of the schools I am in went with Lumen and are cussing it as much as they can,” Hill said. “The schools I work with that have SIS are happy with it. The ones that have Lumen are not.”

Burrow said the problems seem to relate to the amount of experience the company’s designers have with the needs of educators.

“Lumen started out as a business software program and transitioned into education, and you could see that in their applications,” Burrow said.

Burrow told her board members that the district is in fairly good financial shape, and at present is $152,000 “to the good” in comparison to budget projections.

Board members accepted her proposed quarterly budget amendment to reflect that balance.

“It’s very hard to figure things to the exact dollar of what we will spend; there will inevitably be some things that we will go over a little on and some things we go a little under on, even though I watch it very closely,” Burrow said.

In other financial matters:

• Board members approved a $425 bid from Tru-Test Environmental Services to do an asbestos test on the school property.

“Every year when the schools send out their information to the parents, one of those items has to be a letter from me saying we had the inspection and what the findings were,” Burrow said.

No problems are expected from the asbestos check, she said.

• Board members approved a recommendation by Burrow to stay with the district’s insurance consortium that has purchased insurance through Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and add an HMO buy-up option to the insurance packages offered to staff members.

“Our health has been good this year in the consortium,” Burrow said. “We’re getting a decrease instead of an increase.”

That means the Dixon district’s base insurance rate, which is fully paid by the district, will cost $344.68 for the upcoming year. The current rate is $347.24.

“That’s outstanding; that’s unbelievable, really,” said board member Danny Miller.

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