I just finished listening to the recorded minutes of this week’s board meeting so you don’t have to.
Here are what I consider are the highlights.
A public hearing was held to discuss the latest charter school proposal from Brent Bishop and The Highland Academy. The board will be asked to give conditional approval for the Highland Academy to move forward with applying for grant money to establish Beaumont’s first Charter school. This was just a hearing and no action was taken. I want to thank Mr. Bishop for his persistence and I am hopeful the parents of Beaumont are closer to some kind of school choice.
The board authorized some of the Budget Review Committee’s recommendations, including a 25% decrease in the Travel & Conference Budget. This wasn’t a surprise since the recommendations they approved were already included in the budget they approved minutes later.
One interesting note: The board, realizing they needed to present the appearance they were authorizing the BRC recommendations before approving the budget, reordered the agenda at the beginning of the night. The show must go on.
Following are the remaining BRC recommendations that were not authorized:
- Cost of Volunteer Background Checks = $40k
- Revise Mowing Schedule = $99k
- Employee Recognition Dinner = $9k
- Suspend Middle School and High School Freshman Athletic Programs = $25.5k
- Charge up to %20 of Special Education Management & Clerical Salaries to Mental Health Fund = $70k
- Team Concept Cleaning - Reduce Custodial Staff by %10 = $67k
- Eliminate Clerk I 3.5 Hours Position at Anna Hause Elementary = $14k
- Expand Direct Charges for CNS & Adult Education for Custodial & Technology Services = Up to $50k
- Reduce Bilingual Instructional Assistants = $42k
- Eliminate District’s Paid Orientation Days for Teachers from Three to Two Days = $24k
- Eliminate District’s Contribution to Graduation Night Transportation = $1.5k
Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, Mr. Elatar, explained the administration could only recommend a 25% cut in the $150k Travel and Conference because the remaining funds are composed of “categorical” (restricted to specific uses) funds and Site Based allocations. He said a small amount of the budget is used for mileage reimbursement for staff (such as nurses) to travel from site to site. He went on to indicate the district has already spent $117k in travel and conferences.
I still think we should have a detailed accounting of this $117k. This is what I asked for earlier this year that I never received. I assume Mr. Elatar does have a detailed accounting and should have been able to present it if anyone on the board asked for it, no one did. I will leave my agenda item request in place even though it appears unlikely the board will authorize any more reduction to this account. My hope is that Mr. Elatar will follow his historical pattern regarding my agenda item requests and present a complete detailed spreadsheet presentation when this item is considered. Then, finally, we will get the accounting we are entitled to. It’s a shame any one, especially a parent, has to go through this much work just to get access to public information from our public institutions.
If a substantial amount of travel and conference budget allocation is Site Based, I’d like to see the district authorize the school site councils the flexibility to use these funds to increase teacher classroom budgets. This is what I will propose when I am able to speak directly to the board on this issue. I’ll keep you posted.