The Boscobel Area School Board held their regular monthly meeting last Tuesday, Oct. 20.
The board approved the budget and tax levy certification. The budget saw changes in revenues and expenses from the proposed budget approved at the annual meeting held immediately prior to the regular meeting. The final approved budget’s total revenues for the school district are $10,934,293 and total expenses are $11,976,335.62.
The tax levy was set at $1,891,841, a decrease of $25,710 from the budget approved at the annual meeting. The mill rate is $6.62 per $1,000 in equalized property value.
Approval of the new technology contract came with a single dissenting vote and a request from former BAS business manager Cheryl Knowles to consider hiring a fulltime position rather than contract with an outside party.
“I am concerned about the finances. With the school running at a deficit, I think you need to make choices that will save (the district) money,” Knowles said. “Hiring a full-time position, even with benefits, will cost less than the contract you are looking at.”
Knowles estimated that a full-time position would cost the district around $70,000 per year, possibly even less, as opposed to the contract with Dependable Solutions that came with an estimate of $80,000 per year.
Joe Rusky of Dependable Solutions noted that the contract was pro-rated for the year at $60,000.
“We will only bill for the hours we are onsite,” Rusky said. “Usually the first month or two cost more, but then costs drop as we get the systems running properly.”
The company currently contracts with six school districts, Rusky said, and most had found that the service ended up saving them money and cost less than the contract estimate. Rusky also noted that the company was willing to begin working with the school without a contract specifying any amounts.
Elementary principal Rick Walters spoke about the positive experience he had working with Dependable Solutions at Riverdale School District, saying in retrospect he had no complaints.
Asked about the impact of hiring the firm on existing staff, specifically on technology assistant Darlene Bloedow, Rusky said the firm would work with existing staff, viewing them as a member of the team and supporting their efforts, but would not replace any school staff.
As to integration of technology, Rusky said, “We can make recommendations on technology based on our experience, but we are not educators.”
Knowles questioned how the board settled on the proposal from Dependable Solutions and whether the work had been bid out.
Operations Advisor Steve Wacker explained that the committee responsible had sought bids. Of the three firms contacted, only Dependable Solutions had provided a bid. One firm declined to bid and the other had failed to attend the second meeting and provide a bid.
School board director Jason Pickett supported Knowles suggestion that the district look at hiring a full-time technology staff person to evaluate if they could save money. He provided the sole dissenting vote on the proposal.
In other business, the Boscobel School Board:
• heard that the insurance company recommends against having the 6th grade walk to physical education at the high school;
• set the handbook meeting for Nov. 3;
• approved the contract for Dr. Ennis;
• approved the addition of volunteer assistant wrestling coach Lance Wetter;
• accepted the resignation of the elementary music teacher, waiving the late resignation fee;
• set May 28, 2016 at 11 a.m. the graduation date;
• approved paying up to 18 credits for the youth option program;
• approved hiring substitutes for the food service program;
• approved posting for three part-time paraprofessional positions in the early childhood program;
• approved retaining legal counsel Eileen Brownlee and not look into the cost of other legal representation;
• tabled action on the auditor’s suggestions for purchasing procedures and guidelines;
• approved the 2015-2016 school fundraisers; and
• approved acknowledgement of donations from the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation; Anchor Bank, Community First Bank, Rural Neighbors, Fennimore Veterinary Clinic, Madison Community Foundation, Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics, Scott Teuber (Wisconsin River Outings), Kim Kuykendall (Christ Harvestime), Linda Reynolds (Reynolds Construction), Jane Jones, Donna King, and Tom Hubl.