Thursday, November 20, 2014


I believe that there has been some misinterpretation of some information that I have shared. Both the historical Greene and Allison Bristow districts had positive unspent balances for FY 09 and FY 10. These were the budgets that were set up by Mr. Ward and Mr. Davison respectively. The FY 10 and subsequent budgets were administered by the superintendent who was shared between the two districts. Both of these gentlemen left their respective districts healthy financially. I apologize for any misunderstanding and inconvenience this may have caused.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Responses to Questions from Mr. Foster, Laura Staudt, and Eric Bixby

This will be the final time that the board/administration addresses the issues surrounding the past month. We are looking at the opportunities that we will be able to provide our kids in the future. The administration and district leadership team are working to develop and provide the best 7-12 programs and PK-6 programs that we can possibly provide. We are very excited about the opportunities that have been presented to us.
·      Has the board re-examined its role in in the direction of finances and hiring practices since 2009? If so, what did it find?
a. Yes. That is how the board determined that there needed to be a change in the district office. Both the business manager and superintendent positions have been replaced.
·      What is the official procedure when it comes to filling a vacant board seat? Was this policy followed last week? Who were the candidates and whom did you select?
a.     The following is taken directly from Iowa Code.
b.     Vacancies occurring among the officers or members of a school board shall be filled by the board by appointment. A person so appointed to fill a vacancy in an elective office shall hold office until a successor is elected and qualified pursuant to section 69.12. A person appointed to fill a vacancy in an appointive office shall hold such office for the residue of the unexpired term and until a successor is appointed and qualified. Any person so appointed shall qualify within ten days thereafter in the manner required by section 277.28.A vacancy shall be filled at the next regular school election if a member of a school board resigns from the board not later than forty-five days before the election and the notice of resignation specifies an effective date at the beginning of the next term of office for elective school officials. The president of the board shall declare the office vacant as of the date of the next organizational meeting. Nomination papers shall be received for the unexpired term of the resigning member. The person elected at the next regular school election to fill the vacancy shall take office at the same time and place as the other elected school board members.
c.     As is clearly shown the board went above and beyond the requirements in appointing a new member. Applications were taken from 5 people; they also filled out a questionnaire during the board meeting. Those are available for review in the district office.

·      To what extent of our recent budget woes are attributed to the incompetence of the previous administration and budget manager? If you cannot give this answer due to legal reasons, please state so and provide us with those reasons.
a. There was a clerical error in reporting some data. The biggest issue was that someone entered a receivable for sharing money, but there was not any sharing money to be received.
·      How did the district overspend its authority and revenue and when? Were these issues due to errors in budget projection? I find it highly unlikely that such repeated events were due to auditor error.
a. As we look at and review the information from previous years, the expenditures exceeded revenues in each of the previous 5 years. This results from several things. Lack of oversight in spending by the administration, lack of financial controls also contributed to these problems. Many of the issues were due to errors in budget projection or faulty numbers-only the one time was there an auditor markdown. In reviewing numbers it has become clear that the numbers given to the board over the past several years were faulty. The board asked for items in the past and would not receive them, or the information would not be accurate.  The auditor explained to us several weeks ago that they had told the previous superintendent that the previous business manager was not qualified to do the job that he was expecting and asking her to do. That information was never relayed to the board.
·      If applicable, what financial oversight procedures were in force at the time?  Have new procedures been adopted since? In other words, what have we learned from this?
a.     New central office personnel have been hired and new fiscal oversight has been put into place. All purchases/expenditures must now be approved buy the superintendent prior to purchase/ordering. If the amount of a purchase is over $5000 it must be board approved.
·      Was Superintendent Foster aware of true extent of the problems facing the district when he interviewed for the position? I hold the opinion that he was somewhat aware, but didn’t realize the full extent of the issues until he took the position.
a.     I was aware that there were issues, but no one was aware of the degree of the problem until we completed our Certified Annual Report in September. There was no way for anyone to know the full extent due to inaccurate reports that were given to the board.
·      a superintendent sharing arrangement with RRMR? Did our current budget woes play a factor into this decision? How much money would the district have saved with this arrangement?
a.     RRMR declined to share due to having a first year superintendent. The department of education also stated in their report for the site visit that the interviews they conducted showed that the North Butler community did not want to share a superintendent. It would have been very difficult for a half time superintendent to meet the needs of the North Butler District at this time.
·      What is the role of the current school business manager?  Does it differ from the role the previous business manager had? What oversight does this person have? What background does this person have in school finance?
a.     The business manager is shared with Clarksville, so she is only in the North Butler District half the time. The current business manager is also a licensed School Business Official. The business manager and superintendent work as a check and balance system to ensure that all expenditures come from proper funds. The business manager also supplies the financial reports to the superintendent and board that we work from.
·      Who is responsible for identifying and applying for federal, state, local and private grant funding?  How are these grants applied for? How are the grant applications approved for submission? Have you identified any weaknesses in the process?
·      Would a part-time grant writer employed by North Butler School District be worth looking into? Perhaps the benefits would outweigh the costs. Our district didn’t apply for the Teacher Leadership & Compensation system grant (TLC). Is this due to the difficulty of applying for such a grant and meeting the minimum score required? What is the role of the AEA during this process?

a.     Most of the grants that we are eligible for as a school district are very limited in scope. The Teacher Leadership and Compensation grant for instance, is a very targeted grant. The application process is very cumbersome, and will include both teachers and the School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC) in the writing process. Only a small portion of the schools that applied for this grant were actually accepted. We will work on the application for this program starting in January for submission prior to October 31st, 2015. If we are not among the group that is accepted at that time we would have to rewrite the application. Most of the grants that we look at are not for very large amounts.
·      What are the plans for the existing North Butler Elementary building at Greene?
a.     The building is going to be closed, disposition will be determined at a later date.
·      Has the board explored the option of adding communities to the current school district?
a.     The board has no control over what neighboring communities are going to do. I believe that the board would be open to discussion with any of our neighbors.
·      Has the board or district administration explored their future options when it comes to expansion of existing buildings, especially the high school? If so, what did they find?
a.     At the current time there is no need for expansion. Projections show that we have enough space for the foreseeable future.
·      After making the corrective actions, how does the board envision the district being in 2020? Do you see enrollment rising, holding steady or declining? I feel much of the rise in enrollment numbers is attributed to open enrollment into the district from neighboring areas rather than an increase in population or birth rate within the district. I believe the current well-publicized budget situation and school closing could lead to reduced open enrollment numbers, especially from those at the northern end of the district. I am one of those people who open enrolled my child into the district.
a.     First, we see the district being in a much stronger financial position. Second, we should be in a strong position to add some value added programs for our HS students-which would be classes for our students to gain college credit or career experience. Our certified enrollment this year is 641. I do not believe that Open Enrollment will change much. Data clearly shows that North Butler consistently provides one of the best educations in the area. The realignment of the district will only improve the quality of education that we provide. Our teachers will be able to collaborate with one another better, align curriculum better, and as a district we will be able to better utilize our staff and their talents.
·      What is the future of the Pre-K and 4-year-old program? Early childhood education should be placed at a premium because it provides the foundation for all future learning.  At this point, it seems as if North Butler can only offer a very basic education, which seems to be a common theme with many rural school districts. I believe we need to focus on keeping this program a viable option.
a.     The three-year-old PK program is going to be eliminated. We will lose over $60,000 on that program this year. The 4-year-old program will remain intact, as will early childhood special education for 3year olds. This is funded by the state. North Butler is providing a very high quality of education for our students. They have opportunities in the fine arts, family consumer science, vocational programs and extracurricular activities. Within 2 years we will be in a much better state financially and should be looking at adding programs to our MS/HS. On December 3rd Mr. Huff and Mr. Foster will be attending an opportunity to learn about a grant through John Deere to bring Project Lead the Way to the MS. Project Lead the Way is one of the premier engineering programs in the country.

The board has continuously gone above and beyond in meeting the requirements of the state and needs of the district. The board has the right to do what is necessary to meet the budget of the district, yet the administration and board felt the right thing to do was to inform the community and allow them an opportunity to be heard.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

North Butler HS Veteran's Day Program

A recording of the North Butler HS Veteran's Day program can be viewed at NBHS Veteran's Day Program through

Notes from 11-10-14 Board Meeting

Last evening the board took the following actions:

1. Approved the Certified Annual Report (CAR)
2. Approved SBRC application for Ontime funding for new enrollment.
3. Approved SBRC application for new Open Enrollment out
4. Approved early graduation requests for 5 students.
5. Discussed early retirement policy, gave direction to review policy of other districts.
6. Approved purchase of 2 special education vans. One from Roling Ford, one from Cooper Motors.
7. Approved eliminating Allison Building elementary secretary position, reducing assistant business manager to half time, and approved moving a contract from 230 days to 220 days, all effective January 1, 2015.
8. Approved Maureen Rowe as special education associate, pending background check.
9. Approved Morgyn Hobson as volunteer cheer coach, pending background check and completion of all necessary paperwork.
10. Approved Galen Hoodjer as substitute teacher and van driver.
11. Approved Peggy Griffin (pending background check) as substitute teacher.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Board Meeting 11-10-14

North Butler Community Schools
Monthly Board Meeting November 10, 2014
North Butler Middle School - Media Center, Allison 6:30 PM
Tentative Agenda
1.     Call to Order
2.     Review and Approve Agenda
3.     Review and approve minutes from 10/20, 10/27, and 11/4 community and special meetings.
4.     Financial Reports
5.     Public Items of Discussion
6.     Board Items of Discussion
7.     Approve Certified Annual Report (CAR)
8.     Discuss/Approve SBRC application for increase enrollment
9.     Discuss/Approve SBRC application for increase in OE out
10.  Discuss/Approve early graduation requests
11.  Discuss/Approve early retirement policy
12.  Discuss/Approve Special Education van purchase
13.  Administrative reports
14.  Exempt Session to discuss strategy in matters relating to employment conditions of employees not covered by the collective bargaining law;
15.  Human Resources
a)     Personnel recommendations
b)     Associates
c)     Substitutes

16.  Adjournment