Robinson Unit 2 school board members took steps to amend this year's budget during its meeting Monday.
Saying they were preparing for a "worst-case scenario," Superintendent Josh Quick presented the board with amendments that show Unit 2 ending the school year "a little worse off than what we first predicted." But the district could still come in with a somewhat smaller deficit in the education fund than expected if all possible revenues come in between now and June 30.
The district managed to hold down expenses this year, but revenues were also down and Unit 2's investments failed to perform, Quick said. Unit 2 was looking at a $400,000 deficit in the education fund, but that could now be as much as $500,000.
Board President Dennis Inboden pointed out Unit 2 has made about $3 million in cuts per year in recent years, but most of the public seems to remain unaware of this. Quick explained the board had tried to make cuts without negatively affecting students, so many of those cuts may have gone unnoticed.
"It could have been so much worse," he added.
Inboden said eventually something else will have to be done. "We're managing, but we're treading water," he explained. "That's the state of affairs in every school district, I think."
Inboden pointed out the Unit 2 education fund tax rate is $2 per $100 equalized assessed valuation, a figure unchanged since 1984. Boosting it to $3.05 per $100 EAV would eliminate the deficit, but it would require voter approval.
Unit 2 will post the proposed amendments to the 2013-14 budget for the next 30 days. To accommodate this, the June meeting has been moved from June 16 to 7 p.m. June 23. The regular meeting will be preceded by a public hearing on the amendments.
In a related matter, the board loaned $500,000 from operations and maintenance to the education fund to cover the deficit during the final month of the fiscal year. The loan will have to be repaid once this year's property tax revenues start arriving.
In another financial matter, the board also signed with Kemper CPA to perform the annual district audit.
Also Monday, the board took no action on a lease offer from Cellular One and gave final approval to a change in the Robinson High School Athletic Handbook.
Representatives from Cell One were present to ask if the company could lease a section of district property west of Nuttall Middle School. They are seeking a location for a new cellphone tower and need a parcel at least 150 feet in diameter.
"I don't see this location working," Inboden said. Although it has no concrete plans, the board is looking into options to relieve traffic congestion on Highland Avenue each school day by rerouting the buses. One possible solution is building a road to the west that would allow buses to exit without tying up traffic on Highland. The proposed tower location is "right smack in the middle" of where the road might go.
Two other possible tower locations would interfere with cross-country events, Quick pointed out.
The board also adopted a change in a policy created to promote sportsmanship among parents and other fans at Unit 2 sporting events.
Last year, the board adopted a policy that said any fan ejected from a sporting event would receive a letter from RHS and will be required to come to the school to talk with RHS principal Troy Hickey.
For a second offense, the fan would be barred from attending the next competition at that level as well as all lower-level events that precede it. In other words, if a fan is ejected from a varsity football game, he will not be allowed to attend the following week's varsity matchup, nor that week's freshman or junior-varsity games.
For a third offense, the fan will face being banned from attending games for the rest of the season.
Under the amendment, Hickey and athletic director Terry Roche can skip the first two steps in extreme circumstances, such as actually getting on the field on playing floor during the game.
The ejected fan would automatically be banned from future games and would have to go before the board at its next meeting if he or she wanted the ban lifted. That could mean missing several events.
In personnel matters, the board hired Beth Rynke to replace retiring elementary guidance counselor Ron Riggs. Members also accepted resignations from Lincoln Elementary School reading aide Jarrod Shrum and Washington Elementary School CAP aide Charity Brown.
A 16-week leave of absence was approved for special education paraprofessional Jennifer Terry.
In other business, the board:
Discussed the possibility of a special meeting the first week of June to plan for upcoming negotiations with the Community Unit Two Education Association. The full board will serve as the district's negotiating team.
Was reminded RHS graduation is 7 p.m. Saturday.
Approved its contract with the Crawford County Health Department for 2014-15.
Approved board meeting dates for the coming school year.