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by Patty Cheffey
The Palmyra R-I staff and personnel will receive a raise next year, following approval by the R-I Board of Education of an $11.2 million budget for FY22.
The 2021-2022 school year budget was approved during last week’s meeting, at which they also included prepayment on the 2014 bus barn lease, a transfer of funds, sportsmanship results and hiring of staff.
The approved budget has total operating expenditures of $11,202,685.00, with the operating levy used in the development at $3.3480 for operations and a debt service rate of $0.68 for a total of $4.0280.
“This is the same tax rate as FY21 and reflects a $.0422 voluntary rollback in the operating funds from the highest voter approved operating levy,” said Superintendent Kirt Malone.
“Last year at this time we had no idea what impact the pandemic was going to have on our state and local economy,” he added. “As it turned out our local economy remained vibrant without a lot of disruption from COVID-19, and our state economy did very well, too.”
Some highlights of this budget are a $1,250 increase to the base salary for teachers in addition to the $400 vertical step on the salary schedule for years’ experience given to eligible teachers.
Non-certified staff will receive a 3.597 percent raise in addition to their step. The budget includes the increase to beginning wages for classified employees that matches the January 2022 state minimum wage.
“I am very excited that this budget includes good raises for our teachers and staff next year. This budget also adds over $100 per insured employee to go toward their health insurance premiums,” Malone said. “We were able to add an additional first grade teacher for next year to reduce class sizes resulting from larger incoming classes the past two years. That will give us five sections of kindergarten and first grade next school year.”
There is an increase of approximately 12.9 percent for the cost of health insurance for FY22.
“For the 10th time in 18 years there will not be an increase of the Missouri Teacher Retirement System or the Missouri Non-teacher Retirement System,” Malone added.
In addition to a new first grade teacher, the budget includes an increase in bus driver pay, and an increase in sub pay from $75 to $85 per day.
The budget also includes capital improvements that includes renovations to the middle school driveway and the elementary driveway and repairs to the high school tennis courts as well as the purchase of a new bus.
In addition, the budget will include prepayment to pay off the 2014 bus barn lease-purchase.
“We are able to pay off the 2014 bus barn lease purchase early and save about $5,500 in interest payments,” Malone explained. “At a certain point in the payment period our lease-purchase can be paid off early which creates interest savings. This lease-purchase had two annual payments remaining, and we are in a position to pay it off in the upcoming fiscal year.”
While the local budget looks good, more help from the state would be appreciated, Malone said.
“Even though the state foundation formula is ‘fully funded’, it is being funded at the same level for the third year in a row, further entrenching Missouri as 49th or 50th in the nation for state funding of public education,” he said. “What that means is every year there is a greater burden on local communities to pay more out of their own pockets to educate their children. It isn’t a lot of fun watching our state legislature continue to do business providing the lowest public school funding in the entire nation year after year after year.”
In other business, the board approved a transfer of money from fund 1 (operating) to fund 4 (capital projects) of $200,000 from M & M surtax, the greater of $162,326 or 7 percent transfer, and allowable transportation transfer of $63,000 approved by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).
The board also approved purchasing card users for the 2021-2022 school year. Those are the purchasing cards/credit cards for the district.
The resignations of Shannon Haerr as middle school social studies teacher, assistant varsity football coach, assistant boys basketball coach and varsity boys track coach; and of Whitney Edmondson as middle school ELA teacher and middle school girls basketball coach were accepted.
The board hired Tia Holman as Builders Club sponsor; Mark Lickfeld as assistant varsity boys basketball coach; Alison Paulsen as sixth grade ELA teacher and middle school girls basketball coach; and Nick Powell as middle school social studies teacher, assistant varsity football coach and varsity boys track coach.
The board also reviewed the final Clarence Cannon Conference Sportsmanship results for the 2020-2021 school year.
Palmyra received a top 4 rating across the board, which covered athletes, cheerleaders, coaches, student and adult spectators and game personnel for both football and softball.
Morgan Ramey, OPAA regional food service supervisor, and Lee Gosney, OPAA assistant food services supervisor, reported to the board on the food service program.
OPAA continues to explore ways to raise student participation rates at all three schools.
The board also:
• heard a report from Bridgette Augspurg on the district’s Title I program;
• adopted MSBA policy update 2021A;
• adopted the professional development plan for 2021-2022; and
• approved the sale of a school bus as presented.