We have reached the midpoint of the 2015-16 school year and as an administrative team we feel that things are going very well.
The transition from the 3 buildings to 2 has been very successful, and our staff has done an incredible job of bringing things together, working as a team, and taking advantage of the opportunities that combining buildings has brought to them. Watching the teachers take advantage of the opportunity to work together and collaborate on our children and their learning has been incredible. I have never seen teachers collaborate as well as our staff is! The reality of this situation is that we have had some growing pains, but there is no way that we could have envisioned this change going as well as it has. I believe thais a testimony to the wonderful board, staff, and administrators that I have the privilege of working with at North Butler Community Schools.
The community turned out in record numbers in September to elect a new board for our district, and the board is doing a fantastic job of working together, asking questions, and holding the district administration accountable. Each board member brings a unique perspective and skill set to the table, which will only work to enhance the culture, climate, and the opportunities we are able to provide our students. We have board members who are taking the time to understand school finance, our policy manual, and to ask really good questions about the direction and future of our district, as well as the decisions that we make. Administratively, with the blessing of the board, we are currently working to explore opportunities to provide our students a larger selection of vocational programs through cooperation with our neighboring districts and NIACC. This would allow better and more career opportunities for the students, as well as opportunities to begin vocational programs through NIACC while still in high school. The board and administration are also looking at exploring and prioritizing building and grounds upkeep and other projects that will allow us to make the best use of our infrastructure funds, where we currently have a balance of over $1 million between our PPEL and SAVE (sales tax).
The financial condition of the district has improved considerably. When I arrived in July of 2014, the district had overspent the general fund. Due to the negative unspent balance, the district was required to go before the SBRC. At the end of fiscal year 2015, we had a positive unspent balance of $281,949, and we are projecting an unspent balance between $400,000 and $500,000 at the end of fiscal year 16(general fund). This will get us much closer to where we need to be as a district (with a 10%-15% unspent balance), and will allow us to begin purchasing updated curriculum materials, as much of our curriculum is outdated. Our first curriculum purchase will be in reading for the 16-17 school year, and will be a district wide purchase. Curriculum purchases such as this could easily run in the $100,000 to $150,000 range. Managing our budget properly also allows us to make better use and to better manage our staff numbers and assignments.
I have now been at North Butler Community Schools for about a year and a half. During my time here I have gotten to know many of the students, not just as students but as athletes and members of our communities also. I cannot stress enough how impressed I have been with the quality of the kids at North Butler. Our students here are some of the most respectful, well mannered kids that I have ever had the privilege of working with. They are coachable, polite, and know how to enjoy themselves without crossing the line to where they are getting into or causing trouble. Thank you to the parents of our communities for doing such a fantastic job with your children!