Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Superintendent News 10-26-16

Fall is a busy time for schools and our personnel. We have many activities going on with fall sports, musical contests, getting ready for our fall plays, and a myriad of other activities for our students. It is also time for some of the most important state reporting items that we take care of during the course of the school year.

The first major report that is due in September is called the Certified Annual Report (CAR). The CAR is a breakdown of all revenues, expenditures, and balances across the board in all of our accounts. This report is where we pull an abundance of our financial information from.

The next major report that we have due is our Certified Enrollment report, which is due on October 15th.  This is the document where we report our enrollment for the year, and it is this number with which the state calculates the funding we receive.  Each year a specific date is set, and the number of students enrolled on that day is used in the calculations.  This year, Monday, October 3rd, 2016, was the date we use for count. From the 3rd through the 15th we spend a large amount of time having staff members go over their class lists to ensure that we have all of our students listed, going back through to ensure that students are either our students or are open enrolled in, and verifying numbers of students who attend other districts through open enrollment out, being tuitioned out, or are enrolled elsewhere due to a consortium type of agreement. (Yes, this gets confusing!)

Our Certified Enrollment in October of 2014 was 641. In October of 2015, that number dropped to 602, and has now dropped to 592. Over the past 2 years we have lost 49 students, which is equivalent to a loss of roughly $327,222 from our general fund budget over that same time period. This loss of enrollment is not unique to North Butler, and I believe is a direct result of the current state of our economy. We have families that have been affected by layoffs at John Deere, Unverferth, Terex, AIC, and numerous other places as the poor farm economy continues to trickle down through local businesses.

When I arrived at North Butler Community Schools in July of 2014, the general fund had a negative unspent balance, which meant that the district had spent roughly $213,773 more than the state allowed. At that time the Board made some difficult decisions. Those decisions have allowed us to gain some breathing room as far as the general fund budget goes. At the end of FY 15 (June 30, 2015) North Butler had an unspent balance of roughly $281,949. At the end of FY 16 (June 30, 2016) our projected unspent balance at this time (not final until the Department of Education says it is) is in the neighborhood of $670,200. For a district our size, that is very close to where the IA Association of School Boards suggests we should be (10% of our budget which is about $7,000,000).

Due to the actions taken by the board during the 14-15 school year, we do not have to look at drastic actions to make ends meet at this time due to our declining enrollment numbers. If that were not the case, we would most likely be looking to reduce our expenditures by roughly $450,000 for next school year. As things currently lie, I believe that we are sitting much better financially as a district. We may have a slight dip in our unspent balance this year (FY 17) due to purchasing new curriculum, venturing into the Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) program, adding an elementary counselor, and making other purchases that had been put off far too long. Projections, however, show at the current time that this should be short lived as long as we are careful with expenditures, and that we should gain again in our unspent balance in FY 18.

Programs and Facilities

You will notice that we continue to work on our facilities and are constantly striving to improve what we do in the classroom. As funds allow, we will continually proceed to improve and ensure that we are doing all we can to keep our facilities in good working order.

As most of you know, this was the first year that North Butler Community Schools FFA/Ag department had a test plot. This was just at 2 acres, was planted to beans, and harvested at just over 70 bushels per acre.

With the storms that occurred at the end of September, the school property did receive some minimal damage, all of which occurred at the North Butler Athletic Complex in Greene. There were 13 trees that were either uprooted or broken off, lights were turned on the light poles and will need to be re-aimed, a hole was torn in the track from the trees falling, and some fiberglass panels were torn from the top of the track shed. All of the repairs should take place yet this fall.

We have also done some work on the football field area in Allison. We removed the metal railing from around the inside and outside of the track for safety purposes as it was sticking up, and this also makes it easier to mow. We will most likely remove the light poles also, as the lights no longer all function properly.

The staff at North Butler Community Schools would like to thank all of those volunteers who graciously gave of their time, effort, or supplies/equipment during the sandbagging and cleanup operations in Greene. It makes us all proud to be in such caring communities where everyone will step up and help a neighbor, regardless of their personal circumstances. Volunteer Fire Departments and EMS crews from Allison, Bristow, Greene, and as far away as Coulter worked tirelessly in assisting to save as much as they could. Students from Riceville, Osage, and West Fork worked together to help clean up. Thank you to all involved!

Proud of Who We Are and What We Do! #ItsGreatToBeABearcat

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Board Notes 10-10-16

Last evening the North Butler Board of education took the following actions;

1. Approved purchase of Special Ed van from Cooper’s
2. Approved disposition of obsolete vehicles
3. Approved Calendar changes due to missed days-Oct. 28th will now be counted as a student contact day-will not change how that day works-still a comp day for staff. We will also have school on February 20th (President’s day listed as snow make-up).
4. Tabled approval of Certified Annual Report to November
5. Approved participation in the Bremwood Consortium
6. Approved Kevin Clipperton as Head Girls Basketball Coach
7. Approved Isaac Floss as substitute teacher

Monday, October 3, 2016

Homecoming 2016-A Great Success!

Thank you to all of our students, staff, and community members who helped make Friday night such a successful event, and congratulations to the Bearcat Football team on a great Homecoming win! Thank you to the Butler County Cattlemen’s Association for coming out and grilling for us. It is greatly appreciated!

Preliminary estimates are that between T-Shirt sales, the freewill meal, and the freewill entry to the FB game on Friday, that we will have raised roughly $9,000 to be split between the Volunteer Fire/Ambulance departments of Greene, Allison, and Bristow. We will get out solid numbers, and checks for these organizations as soon as we have all bills, and deposits accounted for.

How great is it that we live in a place where people are this generous with their time and funds to support their communities like this in a time of need!!!


Friday, September 30, 2016

Proud To Be A Bearcat

Proud To Be A Bearcat!

As superintendent of North Butler Community Schools, I have much to be grateful for this week. It has been a long, and arduous week, but very rewarding for me at the same time.

I would like to thank the staff members and parents who acted so quickly on Wednesday September 21st, when the first tornado warning went off, to ensure that all of our students, parents, and staff who were still at the high school building were safe and taken care of. It is a long list, but I am thankful for every one of you, and the role that you played in ensuring that our students were safe during what was one of the craziest storms I have ever witnessed.

Next, hats off to Sheriff Jason Johnson and his staff, Butler County Emergency Management Director Mitch Nordemeyer, Greene Volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance, Allison Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue, Bristow Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue, and the countless other agencies that helped from around the region. That list is also too long to place here (not that I would remember them all anyway)! The amount of communication that I witnessed, and the choreography of your work were incredible. Without the communication and quick response by these organizations the amount of damage to downtown Greene especially could have been much worse. As it is, there were no serious injuries or loss of life due in large part to the quality and number of people responding to this natural disaster.

Starting with the thunderstorm, rain, and tornadoes on Wednesday, then through the massive flooding that ran through Greene, and now the cleanup, I have been amazed at the way the communities have pulled together. The amount of help that people have given one another (some while ignoring their own personal disaster issues) has been incredible. The level of cooperation, teamwork, and understanding of individuals and entities involved throughout this process has been incredible.

The staff and students of our nearby schools have responded incredibly. Two graduates of Greene HS brought students to town to assist with the cleanup, as did my Alma Mater. Eric Gabe (West Fork), Dustin Smith (Osage), and Bryce Conway (Riceville) thank you so much for the assistance on Monday, September 26th. You and your students represented what is best about living in Northeast Iowa, and what true compassion and sportsmanship are all about. Your students represented your communities well, and you are truly good men!

The staff and students of North Butler Community Schools have made me proud. Regardless of their situation and whether they have suffered loss themselves, they have selflessly helped others. I know of at least one staff member who is yet to address issues at their own house, as they have been assisting family members. This is the true definition of family and community!

I greatly admire and respect the things that our communities, staff and students have done over the past week. As a result, it is time for North Butler Community Schools to give back. Please join us this evening as we host RRMR for our Homecoming 2016, #Theresnoplacelikehome and the free will offering dinner being prepared by the Butler County Cattlemen’s Association, and the free will entry to the Bearcats football game. Remember that all proceeds will go to the Volunteer Fire Departments and Ambulance Services within the North Butler School District!


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Friday, September 16, 2016

Fiscal 16 Finances in Review (projections)

The end of the fiscal year (FY) for school districts is June 30th. After the end of the school year, we are required to submit what is known as the Certified Annual Report (CAR) to the Department of Education prior to September 15th of that year. As I am sure most of you are aware by now, the school district uses several different funds.  The General Fund is usually the focus of attention as that is where the majority of our operating costs including personnel come from.

On June 30th, 2014, the district finished FY 14 with an unspent balance of -$213,773. Having a negative unspent balance is a problem for a school district.  It means that you spent more than the state allows, and that you spent more than you took in.

At the end of FY 15, we were able to raise that unspent balance to $281,949.  We were also able to raise other financial indicators that we follow to determine the financial health of the school district, such as the day’s net cash ratio (measures the length of time a school could operate without any income in case of emergency) and the financial solvency ratio (one of the measures the state looks at).

On June 30th, 2016, or the end of FY 16, North Butler Community Schools had an estimated Unspent Authorized Budget (unspent balance) of $618,912. This moved us to a day’s net cash ratio of 88 days (close to the target of 90), an unspent balance ratio of 8.42% (within the target range of 7.5%-10%), and a financial solvency ratio of 8.71% (within the target range of 5-10%).

As you can see by the figures above, North Butler Community Schools has improved our financial situation over the past few fiscal years as a result of some very difficult decisions that have been made by the board of education.  It is clear that the board’s decisions are moving us in the right direction to recover from the past financial problems and will also ease the pain of a large loss in student population over the last several years.

When we measure our future revenues, we will receive roughly $6591 per student for FY 17 (the current FY). Over the past two years, North Butler Community Schools have seen a decline of roughly 55 students, 39 for FY16, and roughly 15-17 for the current year (count day is October 1st). If we multiply that, we are looking at a decrease in funding of roughly $362, 505. Due to what is called a budget guarantee, we will not lose all of that money at one time. The budget guarantee is a mechanism in the Iowa school finance formula that helps lessen the impact of declining enrollment in schools.

What does the declining enrollment mean for North Butler Community Schools? First, it means that we will have to continue to carefully monitor and code expenditures. Secondly, due to the way that we are currently operating, we have aligned ourselves to be in a much better position to absorb the loss of students.  We have built some cushion or cash reserves to ease that blow, but we will need to cut some costs and continue to carefully monitor spending.

Even though we will be losing large amounts of revenue, the sky is not falling.  We now have a secure financial footing, and North Butler will be financially solvent into the future. We will be able to support the things that our magnificent teaching staff is doing and the many opportunities that we are able to offer our students in academics, athletics, and the fine arts due to the many talents of our staff.

I am VERY PROUD of who we are and what we do at North Butler Community Schools, and our communities should be proud of the support they give us and the things that our staff and students accomplish on a daily basis! It’s Great To Be A Bearcat!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Bank Iowa Challenge Cup

The Bank Iowa Traveling Challenge Cup is a combined statewide, yearlong competition among all member high schools of the Iowa High school Athletic Association, Iowa High School Music Association, Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and the Iowa High School Speech Association. A separate winner is determined for each of the four high school state classes.

For the 2015-2016 school year North Butler Community Schools came in 10th place among all of the Class 1A schools. Congratulations to all of our students, teachers, participants, and coaches for their hard work and accomplishments from the classroom, fine arts performance areas, and the athletic arena! We are proud of you all!