By Robin Gregg
Approximately 75 were attendance for the Special Board work/planning session held at the South Shelby High School, Monday night, February 5. All members were present: Superintendent Tim Maddex, President, Brian Threlkeld, Vice President Jim Foster, Scott Gough, David Farrell, Jarrell Foreman, Aaron Gaines, and Kendel Wood.
Maddex announced there would be no public comments welcomed. The meeting was an idea session to try to develop a plan if the levy doesn’t pass in April and to brainstorm transition ideas as well.
The first page Maddex reviewed was the 2018 and 2019 projected enrollment numbers for both elementary buildings which was estimated from data received from local day cares and preschools. 2018 Enrollment for Clarence is 93 and for Shelbina is 229 totaling 322. 2019 Enrollment for Clarence is 87 and for Shelbina 231 totaling 318. As the rest of the chart showed from 2011-2017, the district’s enrollment numbers have dropped every year.
Maddex reviewed the expenses at each building for 2016-2017 school year. Shelbina cost per student was $6,374.57, Clarence cost per student was $9,019.93, Middle School cost per student was $6,431.42, and the High School cost per student was $8,638.53 (which is higher than normal because of the tornado repair expenses, this will not be that high every year). The operating costs for Clarence $2.97 per square foot, for Shelbina $4.56 per square foot, for Middle School/High School $3.42 per square foot. District Wide is $3.54 per square foot. New estimates show $3.47 per square foot. The utility costs for Clarence $1.22 per square foot, Shelbina $1.04 per square foot, Middle School/High School $1.20 per square foot. District Wide is $1.18 per square foot. New estimates show $.80 per square foot.
Maddex reviewed the Ballot Language for Proposition K.I.D.S (which reads: Shall the Board of Education of the Shelby County R-IV School District, Missouri be authorized to increase the operating tax levy ceiling to $4.4800 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation through tax year 2037 in order to provide funds for the site development, construction, equipping and furnishing of a new elementary school; to the extent funds are available, complete other renovations, remodeling, and repair improvements to existing facilities; and to meet the additional operating needs of the district. If this proposition is approved, the adjusted operating levy of the district is estimated to increase $.7300 from $3.7500, currently, to $4.4800 per one hundred dollars of assessed valuation for the 2018 tax year and can be applied to the assessed valuation for each year thereafter through tax year 2037)
Maddex reviewed what the increase would look like in residential and personal property taxes at a $.73 Levy. Example: Residential Appraised Value is $40,000, the monthly increase would be $2.31 or $.08 daily. Example: Personal Property Appraised Value on Vehicle is $5,000, the monthly increase would be $1.01 or $.03 daily.
Maddex shared the New Elementary School at MS/HS Complex FACTS FOR:
*Combined Resources for Students (Special Education, Title 1, Specials, Free and Reduced Lunch, Classroom Equity/Ratio)
*Student Social (Earlier age interaction for our students, Creates student/parent/community unity, Community’s use of current MS/HS facilities
*Staff Development (Common Prep, Team Involvement, Comparable Opportunities, Commonalities, Technology)
*Financial (less square feet to maintain, shared resources/operational costs, increased programs, interest loan rates, one complex to maintain, tax base growth vs increase construction cost, DNR Compliance)
*Transportation (decreased route time on some rural routes, separate bus loading and unloading area, in-town bus stops near homes)
*Student Safety (safety vestibule, handicap/safety handles at MS/HS, Electrical upgrades, older buildings no longer used, newer building with tornado safe gym, medical resources in one location-nurse, responders, closer to ambulance base-, continued repairs on current buildings.
Maddex shared the New Elementary School at MS/HS Complex FACTS AGAINST:
*Not in city limits (no solution)
*Transportation (Increase route numbers, decrease route times, student in town pickup and drop off near homes, increase in bus maintenance, use existing buses to save cost, use a better rotation for mileage)
Maddex said, “The new elementary would give the district possibly $319,233 in savings.”
Elementary School Options: Combined Grade Levels at Clarence and Combined Grade Levels at Shelbina, Pro’s and Con’s were discussed.
The Board looked at proposed pictures of the new elementary. These pictures will be approved and will be available at town meetings in March. While the board looked over the pictures, it was pointed out that the bus kids will be picked up in the rear of the elementary, while the car riders will be picked up in the front for safety precautions.
Maddex asked if anyone had any additional information he had missed on the slides that needed to be added for the public town meetings.
Gaines said, “Need an economics cost of as is on a 20-year operating cycle, and show classroom footage if they will be at current or above and rather or not any hiring of staff will be needed.”
Foreman said, “Need to add agriculture on tax increase with resident and property, such as livestock, equipment, acres, etc, and definitely encourage the public to run the numbers and see just how they will be affected.”
Gaines suggested, “Discuss and define resources and what specialization will entail.”
Foreman said, “I’ve been running the numbers, and I keep coming up with an extra $3.5-$4.5 million dollars that the district will have. I don’t see that its fair to have such an over payment from what the new building costs, where is that money going? Will we roll back levy or pay off the building early?”
Maddex responded to Foreman, “We plan to pay off the building early to save on interest rates and tax burden. It will be up to the board at that time rather or not to roll back the levy.”
Gaines said, “Our goal is to give the tax payers the lowest cost as possible at the same time giving the students the highest quality of resources, the answer is pretty clear to consolidate, and I don’t see combing grades in Clarence is the best cost-effective option with $319,233.00 cost savings on the table. The schools need to consolidate in one of the two towns.”
Foreman said, “If we are talking plan B, if the levy fails, the way I look at it is pretty clear, if the vote is yes, we are going to build a new building, if the vote is no, the tax payers are telling you they don’t want to consolidate into one building. We need to respect the patrons and either combine the elementary buildings or leave them where they are and repair the buildings.”
Gaines responded to Foreman by saying, “I think we need to look at the picture, enrollment numbers are decreasing and doing nothing is not an option and I believe we have all agreed to that during past meetings! We should be talking about how to transition into Plan A not Plan B. How to ensure our quality of resources, and address tax payer concerns.”
Foreman said, “You are right about declining enrollment numbers, but, how does that justify building a new building? The fact is if voters say No, we need to respect that decision. Back in 2015, they said No and we’ve done nothing to manage current situation.”
Gaines responded to Foreman, “Remind me, I believe we have looked at various options to address the situation and during the last bond issue, we didn’t have the declining enrollment numbers that we do currently. Things changed.”
Farrell said, “It takes 51% of the voters to pass the bond issue, it takes four votes from this board to close a school, we really don’t want to do that, but, I think the votes would be there if need be.”
Gaines replied, “Besides the quality of resources, it comes down to dollars, and the cost effective option is in favor of the Shelbina Elementary. We can do the math, and Mr. Maddex will do the math, but, that will be the best option from the cost standpoint.”
Threlkeld said, “We know that the levy will be on the ballot in April. It will be voted on and we need to wait and see if the bond is passed.
Foreman said, “We have told the voters, that they have the right to know what Plan B is before they voted.”
Gaines responded, “The reason Mr. Maddex called for this special meeting was to have him and the administrators be able to plan ahead in regard to resourcing for the next school year. If we wait til April, and we need to fill positions, we are going to be behind on getting those filled.
Maddex said, “We may have to hire one teacher when we consolidate.”
If Clarence consolidates classes, Wheelan recommends combining next years first and second grade classes. Simply because of their interaction with each other, student behavior and evaluate scores, it would be easier on them.
Maddex and the Administration staff needs directions and know what the options are to make decisions on staff or what ever the transition may be.
Foster stated, “This has become a desperate situation with the shortage of teachers. The thing is we all know how difficult it is to get employees in this small area.”
Gaines responded, “We heard in the last meeting, that we have such a hard time staffing lunch program, that we have kids that are going without food. They are more worried about their bellies than trying to learn. We are not doing our job, if we are not addressing that, plain and simple!”
Gough stated, “I don’t think it’s a proper solution or good for the Clarence kids or the teachers to be consolidating two grades together.”
Foreman said, “I believe your patrons want to keep the schools in their communities. That is Shelbina and Clarence both, that is not just a Shelbina vs Clarence thing, it is just what patrons are telling us.”
Gaines said, “We need to make a decision this month on what we are going to do if the levy doesn’t pass.”
Gough asked, “Is it a possibility to move fifth grade to the Middle School Complex?
Bowen responded, “It’s doable, however, it’ll interfere with staff, time, specials and we don’t have specific rooms to contain them.”
Maddex answered, “We could lease a two-classroom trailer for $10,000-$15,000/year to help with the transition.
Foster said, “The old Kindergarten building is also repairable for preschool classrooms as well.”
Classrooms could be added down the road if we want to make the fifth grade on MS/HS campus long term. The district has the money to do that if needed.
Maddex stated, “If we build a new elementary, it will take a year and a half to two years to complete. It should be ready to start 2020-21 year school year.
Threlkeld said, “I know it’s not ideal, but, we can combine classes for one year if need be either it be in Shelbina or Clarence. Move the kids one time, not twice.
Maddex needs to know what the plan is so he knows what direction to go with on plan making.
Foster stated, “There is a really big benefit getting both Shelbina and Clarence under one roof, I know those who have experienced class transitions are grateful for unity. It’s the best thing to be together, it’s a shame they couldn’t be together from the beginning.”
An agreement was made to make a decision at the February 14, School Board Meeting on Plan B.