Budgetary issues will be at the heart of the next meeting of the Three Rivers Community Schools Board of Education.
During their meeting Monday evening (March 16th), trustees agreed to meet for a half-day session on Monday, April 20th, beginning at 8 a.m. Board President Susan Schmidtendorff said, “The idea is to be done by noon.”
The April meeting was originally scheduled to be an evening session starting at 7 p.m., but the board decided to switch to the half-day format to have additional time to delve into budget considerations.
Looking toward the upcoming session, Schmidtendorrf said, “In my mind, it’s a wrap-up of 08/09, and it’s a discussion of some major expenditures and some major cost cutting.” And, she said, “We also have to look at (the) projected budget for next year, assuming fewer kids in attendance.”
The meeting scheduling change came after presentations by Judy Wordelman, Director of Curriculum, and Steve Lucas, Administrative Assistant/Support Services. Wordelman discussed curriculum and programs while Lucas talked about facilities. Their presentations followed a similar presentation by Technology Director Scott Grace during the board’s March 2nd meeting.
In her remarks, Wordelman noted the importance of professional development and shared some comments by a doctoral candidate who talked recently to administrators and teachers while working on her dissertation about professional development. Wordelman indicated the doctoral candidate had praise for the Three Rivers school district, saying, “You know what, you are so far ahead of where other districts are at with figuring out what your staff needs, and your staff is so far ahead of developing their own professional learning community. They know what they need. They figure out how to get their PD.”
In reporting on facilities, Lucas said, “Because of our community and board of education support, we have some of the best facilities around. Due to the passing of two bond issues in an eight-year period and the board-approved budget, we have constructed and maintained facilities any district would be proud of. However, that being said, if we’re going to provide a safe and positive environment to work and learn, ongoing maintenance is required.”
Lucas said, “If you looked at all our facilities and you tried to replace those in today’s dollars, I know you’d be looking at over a hundred million dollars. Because of that, we need to make sure we continue to maintain all aspects of our facilities. This will ensure safety and maximize the equipment and building life cycles.”
Following each of the presentations, the board reviewed and updated the district’s intermediate and long range goals to give further direction in the budget-making process. Two items, in particular, emerged as high priorities on the short-term list – “virtual servers” for the school system’s technology operations and resurfacing of the track at Armstrong Field.
In commenting on the budget preparation process, Superintendent Roger Rathburn said, “We have to be careful not to cut too much. We also have to be careful not to cut too little. You can over-react to these times and you can under-react. We have to strike the right balance. And I think we’ve done that.” And, he added, “It’s a work in progress.”