The USD 418 Board of Education approved the 2016-2017 budget for publication at Monday’s regular meeting.

The USD 418 Board of Education approved the 2016-2017 budget for publication at Monday’s regular meeting. The total budget is $48,350,836, which is about $4.4 million more than the previous budget.

“We plan the budget higher than we think we’ll spend,” said Gordon Mohn, director of operations. “When it becomes actual we’ll be around $45 million since we won’t spend all of that.”

Mohn explained that the mill levy has decreased this year by about 1 mill because the district’s assessed value has increased.

“Bond and interest rates fluctuate as assessed values increase, so the advantage we have in seeing a growth is that we can bring the mill levy down a little bit,” Mohn said. “It saves taxpayers dollars to pay bonds off early, so we're going to work on accumulating the cash and keeping the mill levy low to pay them off and save what we would have spent on interest.”

A budget hearing will be held at 6:45 p.m. on Aug. 22 at the district office, 514 N. Main St. in McPherson. During this meeting, members of the public may voice questions, concerns or objections to the proposed budget. Detailed budget information will be available at the district office.

Superintendent Mark Crawford reported that there are 29 new teachers in the district, 18 of which are first-year teachers. He explained that unifying the district’s perspective on good instruction in the College, Career and Community, or C3, initiative will maximize the district’s effectiveness.

“We feel like the shot in the arm that C3 needs is knowing how to use instruction to its top potential,” Crawford said. “We’re checking to see if we’re maximizing resources and making sure all have shared understanding, rather than redefining good instruction. It’s still a challenge for our newest teachers, so we want to know what our framework is, who we are as a district and what makes us special.”

Board members introduced and welcomed three administrative employees to new roles in the district.

Two administrators who were previously employed in the district are serving in new positions: Brandon Simmelink, McPherson Middle School principal and Chris Allen, Eisenhower Elementary School principal. Ron Orsak, McPherson Middle School assistant principal, is new to the district but has over 15 years of experience in education.

Mohn reported on purchases over $5,000, which include supplies for the carpentry house and carpet at the high school. Upcoming purchases include a 9-passenger vehicle for transporting students to school activities, as the district’s 12-passenger van did not pass Kansas Highway Patrol standards this year. The vehicle will be used in the maintenance department instead.

Mohn summarized the highlights from negotiations with teachers. Changes include a new method of tracking hours for coaches over the summer, as expectations have increased with more summer tournaments. The change will offset expenses for travel and will compensate employees better than the previous model.

Other negotiations include an agreement to allow teachers to move across the salary schedule two times for professional development, rather than just once.

“We like people to do worthwhile professional development and be rewarded for it,” Mohn said.

In the future, Mohn will look into effectiveness and cost of the current health insurance plan for employees and study the district fringe benefit package.

The board voted to start seeking applications in September for a board member to replace Rhonda Wince, who stepped down earlier this summer. The board is not required to fill the position immediately, but members want the applicant to have time to get acquainted with the district before the Christmas break.

"It would be nice if we could fill it. The process takes some time and we don't want them to miss out on upcoming school activities," said board member Brad Berg.

The board will accept applications into October and hopefully fill the position by the beginning of November.

The board designated the McPherson Sentinel as the district’s official paper for the 2016-2017 school year. They will repeat the bid process yearly to determine the district official paper.

Board members approved the McPherson High School and McPherson Middle School budget summaries. These reports do not include funds raised by individual groups, so the negative amounts on the summary do not cause concern.

The board also accepted a gift from Cargill for school supplies to McPherson Middle School.