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The Moniteau County R-1 School District Board of Education met June 24 to participate in a budget workshop for setting the 2019-2020 budget to actual and approving the new budget for the 2020-2021 school year.

For the 2019-2020 school year, the year ended with a $900,000 deficit budget. Bonds were prepared in the amount of $300,000, and the district paid architect fees of nearly $300,000 in preparation for the bond issue approved by voters in the June municipal election. There was also a shortfall of state revenue in the amount of $375,000, mostly because the state started withholding education funding in May to help offset the shortfall in the state's budget due to economic issues resulting from the COVID-19 shutdown.

The board approved the 2020-2021 budget. Superintendent Dwight Sanders said the district is hoping local and federal revenues will be on track with what they have been, but they're predicting a significant reduction in state funding. They are projecting another deficit budget of $900,000 for the upcoming fiscal year and will be cutting their reserve balance by nearly $2 million in just two years. For every $120,000 of budget deficit, it impacts the reserve balance by 1 percent, so it will drop by 15 percent in those two years.

"We are hopeful that an economic turnaround will happen as quickly as COVID shut us down and we'll be able to see our district budget rebound quickly as well," Sanders said. "We anticipate our reserve balance to be about 27 percent at the end of the 2020-2021 school year. This is by no means a time to panic, but it is a time to tighten our belts and evaluate all expenditures."

Prior to the budget workshop, the meeting began with newly-elected board member Brandy Brockes being given the oath of office and sworn in as a new member.

"I met with our new board members, Paul Bloch, Brandy Brockes and Landon Porter, (last) Tuesday to provide an orientation into their new roles," Sanders said. "I am excited by their enthusiasm and commitment toward their new leadership roles. I know that they will be excellent additions to our board and will be outstanding advocates for our community and students."

In other business, the board approved the middle and high school student handbooks. There were minor changes, including an addition about virtual learning and Missouri Course Access Program. The high school handbook also includes a slight change to lunch shift times.

The board also approved a transportation bid and entered into a contract with Apple Bus Company to provide student transportation services for the next three years beginning July 1. The board decided to go with Apple because the overall cost will be slightly less than Durham, and it also approached with a shorter contract length in its bid. Apple approved a three-year contract. Durham wanted a five-year contract, and the board felt in uncertain times — as far as the district's budget goes — a shorter contract was for the best. The board also concluded customer service will be better with Apple because, with some research, Apple provided better support at a lower cost during the shut down than Durham. Apple will be meeting with the district's current bus drivers to discuss employment. The contract guarantees drivers will be paid as much or better than they currently are and won't lose any benefits.

"If you know any of our current drivers, feel free to reach out to them to assure them that their job will still be available and that they are wanted," Sanders said. "Apple will also be looking for a facility for their bus barn within our district boundaries. If you know of a location that has a garage and ample parking for buses, please share that information with me, and I will pass it along."

The board also approved a one-year extension with Central Bank for regular district banking. They will be receiving the bond issue money of $10.75 million in two installments. The first installment will be $6 million, and the second one is $4.75 million.

Finally, the board approved a resolution agreement that approves the issuance of lease funding and improvement certificates of participation in the amount of $2,440,000.

A survey is being prepared for parents and staff to complete to get thoughts and input on what the district's re-entry plan will look like in the fall — this is expected to be sent out in early July. As a reminder, summer school starts Monday.

The Moniteau County R-1 School District Board of Education's next regular meeting is set for 6 p.m. July 15 in the California High School commons.

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