Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Board approves new facilities plan

J-E Editor

Much of the Webster County School Board’s meeting on Monday revolved around expenses. From cutting the cost of bussing, to looking at the budget, finances were at the forefront.

The board approved a new Webster County School District Facilities Plan, with a price tag of around $23.8 million. Although not entirely binding, that plan is designed to serve as a road map moving forward, assessing the district’s building and construction needs.
The largest single project on the plan was a major renovation of Providence Elementary School, which will cost approximately $4.9 million. That project would include renovated restrooms, remodeling of the ‘well’ area, roof replacement, new bleachers and gym lighting, and new HVAC equipment.

The listing notes that the school site is too small.

Three projects included on the plan but not in the $23.8 million price were: lighting at the WCHS football field ($300,000), a multi-purpose Activity Field next to the football field ($250,000), a new field house ($13,500) and a new Elementary School with a capacity of 600 students ($13.9 million) on a site to be named later.

Webster County School’s transportation department is taking money saving to the next level, with the introduction of ‘Travel Tracker’, new software that will allow teachers and administrators to streamline trip planning and cut the costs associated with the piles of paperwork previously required by the district.

“We are already seeing some positive results,” Transportation Director Jill Simpson said of the software that went into use on September 14. “Our schools will be able to reduce the hidden costs associated with bus scheduling, and we can remove delays caused by written bus requests.”

Travel Tracker is an entirely computer based program that starts with the teacher, coach or club sponsor wishing to plan a trip. When that individual enters a trip into the system, it goes electronically to the school principal for approval. The software automatically estimates the cost of the bus, fuel and driver based on the mileage to and from the destination. If funding is available, the request is filtered in turn to the board, the transportation department, food services and finally on to billing and record keeping at the board office.

“This falls under the category of being really focused on how we can be more efficient,” said Superintendent Dr. Rachel Yarbrough. “It just track trips, it also helps with the routing of buses. It’s a step that other districts have been using for a while, and will really help us move into the 21st century.”

District Treasurer Brandi Burnett gave the board a final look at the 2015-2016 budget, and for the first time in many years, the district’s finances are looking up.

“This is the most comfortable I’ve been with any budget since I started,” Burnett told the board.

The overall budget for the current school year sits at $19,881,299.66, with a contingency of 4.5%. That is half a percent better than the goal the district set for this year, and 2.5% higher than the state required minimum. The contingency fund is a fund for emergencies or unexpected expenses.

“There is a finite amount of funding, and we are always focused on what is best for our kids,” said Dr. Yarbrough. “These are public funds, and we are stewards of those dollars. We have an obligation to be mindful of that responsibility.”

 at 270-667-2068 or

No comments:

Post a Comment