By JEROD CLAPP
An outside company will handle policy updates for Greater Clark County Schools starting in 2014, but at a startup cost of $21,100.
On Tuesday, the district’s board of trustees approved a contract with NEOLA Inc. in 2014 to streamline and update policies to stay in accordance with state law, but one board member didn’t approve of the measure.
Mark Pavey, board vice president, said while he understands how difficult it can be to manage changes within board policy to match new state laws every year, he thinks the system works fine with the district’s legal counsel as it is.
“We go through this every month it seems,” Pavey said. “I guess I’m wondering why we need a $21,000 program to go through what we’ve been doing for years. We’ve been customizing them, I kind of think the Sandy Lewis [district general counsel] program is good as well. I have a little bit of a hard time spending $21,000 on something I feel like we’ve done a really good job with in the past.”
NEOLA would update policy twice a year for the district and account for all the state laws that change from the time of one update to another.
Andrew Melin, superintendent, also said the policies would be easier to search through. While Lewis has been able to track those down for board members, Melin said this system would make that easier for everyone.
Jerry White, board member, said while he understood those concerns, a lawsuit because of missing an update in board policy would be more costly than paying for the service.
Christina Gilkey, board president, said aside from the legal liability, this would give the board more of a chance to keep their policy in accordance with state law changes.
“I thought about the timing, too. I’ve been on the board for five and a half years and we’ve been doing policy review every month,” Gilkey said. “Our manual is that thick and I bet we’ve gone through an eighth of it.”
The measure passed 6-1, with Pavey opposing.
Advertising high, but keeping expectations low, chief financial officer Tom Dykiel said he expects to see an overall decrease in the neighborhood of $2 million from last year’s budget.
Dykiel said though the district advertised a budget of more than $103 million, he expects it to be about $10 million less than that. He said he’d rather play it safe than worry about not having enough money.
But he also said though the state expects higher tuition support at the student level — an increase of about $290 per student — he’s skeptical it’ll actually be a realized jump in funding.
“We’ll see about that,” Dykiel said. “I don’t get excited by the budget simulations that come out of Indianapolis because that’s what they are, they’re budget simulations.”
The majority of the cuts come out of the district’s general fund — which pays for staff salaries and benefits, primarily — by nearly $2.7 million. The other decrease comes out of the pension debt fund at $134,102.
He said though the district will see increases in debt service, capital projects, transportation and bus replacement funds, they only make up about $600,000 of the cuts contained in the general fund.
He also said the district faces a number of factors they can’t quantify just yet, including the district’s assessed valuation, impact of bridges, future enrollment, tax caps and whether Tax Increment Finance Districts within the county will affect the district.
The board will vote on the budget at its Oct. 23 meeting.