M-P board OKs selected and one percent across the board cuts

By Mary Zielinski (free-lance)
Posted 6/10/99

In a three-hour session Thursday, June 3, the Mid-Prairie Board of Education came up with nearly three-fourths of the $210,000 needed in budget cuts for fiscal 1999-2000.

The board action, using a …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

M-P board OKs selected and one percent across the board cuts


In a three-hour session Thursday, June 3, the Mid-Prairie Board of Education came up with nearly three-fourths of the $210,000 needed in budget cuts for fiscal 1999-2000.

The board action, using a list of 20 possible cuts, cut $153,778, leaving the district with an approximate $56,222 shortfall.

Included is a one percent across the board cut, voted upon after members decided against the 2 percent cut that would greatly reduce the district’s buildings’ budgets for things such as supplies and textbooks. The two percent cut would have been $64,331. What was approved Thursday cut $32,165 from the building budgets.

The other cuts range from increased book rent from $20 to $30 and increased Driver Education fees from $85 to $200 (to cover actual costs), to eliminating a bus route ($12,500), elimination of support staff overtime ($17,450) and elimination of a mail courier ($3,078).

The suggestion to eliminate the evening shuttle bus was delayed to the second regular board meeting June 28 to permit time to see if a charge for the shuttle service could be instituted.

Maintenance director

Major discussion resulted from board member Elizabeth Curl’s motion to eliminate the maintenance director position, an item that was not on the 20 item list.

She made the motion after the board had reached the $153,778 figure, noting “we have to cut deeper,” and told the board all other areas have been cut. The motion included the provision that the position be studied to see if within year it should be re-instituted.

The time frame refers to the fact the board views the cuts as one-year ones.

Previous board meetings had lengthy discussions about the position, including comments and questions from residents if the $41,000 position (salary and benefits) is worth it to the district. In an earlier report, Jim Adam, the maintenance director, said he had saved the district $6,100 in outside costs for the current year.

However, out-sourcing calls in the two and a half years the position has existed total approximately $41,000.

Responding to Curl’s motion, board member Ed Whetstine said he “opposed it. We do not realize what we’re doing,” citing the position as valuable and that if it were eliminated “we had better get him (Adam) on retainer.”

Board President Tracy Anderson questioned eliminating a position, then studying it, suggesting it should be the reverse.

Principals Gerry Beeler and Becky Furlong told the board that Adam’s services had been invaluable and Beeler said he was willing to learn skills to maintain the high school building, but “I cannot learn them all at once.”

He also gave examples of recent services done by Adam “that took him five minutes. I would not have known where to start.”

Curl suggested that the district’s custodians could be trained, raising their skill levels.

Adam, who was present interjected that “You’ll never get custodians to learn it. Some things even I do not know.”

Board member Ray Marner stressed that it is time to “re-visit” the position that his “feedback from the community” indicates there needs to be more direction even supervision of the post.

A key issue is exactly how the pay is determined. The board thought it was a salary and Superintendent Gordon Cook said it was hourly.

Finally, after two amendments, the board approved possibly eliminating the position, but not before there is a full evaluation of it and to extend the contract on a month by month basis.


A board sub-committee that will include board members Whetstine and Jack Dillon (who at the meeting’s start, said he planned to move for elimination of the post), Beeler, Cook and District Business Manager Doug Slaubaugh will meet with Adam.

Cook said the committee, which can have a few more members from the community, will be in place within ten days.

The board declined to cut regular elementary aides at Kalona Elementary School and at the high school that would have cut $25,290 from the budget. However, it was stressed this would adversely affect students, especially in dispensing medications.

The district still faces needing an additional $56,222 which could conceivably come from the undesignated balance of $174,000.


However, Slaubaugh warned the board that the district’s reserves are such that at present “we cannot refinance our bond issue, (if more favorable terms were available) and if it goes too low, we will not be able to participate in ISCAP.”

Anderson asked how low the unspent balance has ever been and Slaubaugh said “maybe $12,000.”

Anderson replied, “we survived,” and Slaubaugh told him about the re-financing situation.


Whetstine then suggested that the board should implement an Instructional Support Levy, something it can do for five years. However, residents can then petition the district for an election.

Whetstine, who had said he had no problem with dipping into the unspent balance if necessary, insisted that the “Instructional Support Levy is all we’ve got.”

Cook said that the earliest a levy could be voted, either by board or public, is within six months of the previous vote that was in March (defeated by a near two-one margin).