When I interviewed at North Butler last spring, one of the major concerns that I heard during that process revolved around communication with the communities. Since my arrival in July, the board and I have done everything that we can in an attempt to keep the community informed and answer questions as they come up, including starting the blog that I post information on, and communicating with the newspapers and radio stations as needed. We have worked to ensure that the decisions we are making are what we believe to be in the best interest of all of the students in the North Butler Community Schools.
With all of the work that we have done to be transparent and information that has been shared, we are still being asked to answer the same questions and accused of hiding information. As I reflect upon this, I have to think that since the answer is not what is wanted the question keeps being asked in hopes that the answers will change.
I have been asked repeatedly about the capacity of the buildings, and told that they will not hold the number of kids that we want to place in them. The fact of the matter is that we have more than enough space. The High School building was built for a capacity of 385. Next year we are projecting roughly 260-270 students in that building. The Allison building has a capacity of roughly 450. We know that the Allison building held 391 students in 96-97. This was prior to the last addition so we know that the 450 number is at least accurate, if not a little low. At the current time we are projecting 405 students in grades PK-6 for FY 16. This brings total enrollment projections for next year to 667 students PK-12, with a capacity for at least 835. This is actual number kids in seats that we are projecting, not certified enrollment as that works off of a different formula. We will have empty spaces in that building with our current classroom projections. One other thing to remember is that enrollment will fluctuate a little from the beginning of the year to the end of the year as families move for one reason or another. Our current projections are also showing that our enrollment for FY 17 will be down a little from FY 16. Clearly space is not an issue, although it was suggested by a member of an outside group that the HS be moved to Allison so that there was more room.
Summer Lunch Program
The summer lunch program is being brought into the district as a service to our students and families. It is designed intentionally by the government to be a self-sufficient program. It is a benefit to our students (anyone age 18 and under can eat for free), our community, and our school. Mrs. Marshall will be communicating with different groups in our community to help ensure that this program is a success. I have been asked what happens if it is losing money? Then we would address that as the need arises. We have signed up to pilot this program for the month of June at this time. If it is successful we will have the option of carrying it on. If this program is not successful, we would discontinue it at that time. I choose to be optimistic and believe that our community members will see the benefit of this program and that it will be a great success.
Over the past several weeks we have been questioned about board minutes (dating all the way to April of 2014, months before Shellee or I were here), and why certain things are not included. It is unrealistic to believe that everything that is said in a board meeting will be recorded in the minutes. Board actions are recorded, along with attendance. Not all items require board action and are just discussion items so they are not all recorded in the minutes.
Public Documents/Open Records
Due to the extra time that we have had to take in responding to items that we are being asked for by patrons, and they are pulling from the documents within the board website, it has become necessary for us to close access to that site and it will no longer be available in its current form to the public. Those items are still public domain and may be obtained. However, due to the inordinate amount of time that we have had to spend chasing things down for certain people we feel that it is in the best interest of the district to do this so that we can concentrate on the jobs that we need to be doing to move forward. We cannot answer questions about decisions that were made in the past, as we do not know the reasoning for those decisions. There is nothing we can do about things that have occurred in the past, we need to move forward in the best manner possible. Information will still be available, but there will be charges for us to have employees take the time to get that information and make it available to you. Our time is valuable, as we have a school district that needs to have our undivided attention moving forward.
Meetings with Patrons
We are more than happy to meet with our patrons. Please be respectful of our time as when we make time to meet with you and you do not arrive on time, or do not show up at all it is very disruptive to the day. We have many duties that we need to tend to on a daily basis and each item is equally important.
Each year schools deal with open enrollment. March 1st is the annual deadline for this, and applications are to be received by this date.
We have several new applications for OE to other districts. Remembering that an application does not necessarily mean the student is going to leave the district. Of these new OE applications, one is due to the parent working in another district, one is not sure they are going to go, but would be due to working in another district, and several others for other various reasons. To the best of our knowledge none of these are attributed to the decision to move students to two attendance centers.
We have also received five new applications for students to come into North Butler, so it appears that we will continue to be on the positive side of open enrollment.