Shuffle of papers could be a thing of the past for school board members By David Lias
Plain Talk A three-ring binder several inches thick filled with notes and schedules is standard operating equipment for Superintendent Mark Froke during school board meetings. The click of keyboards may someday replace the sound of papers shuffling at meetings of the Vermillion School Board, however. "There has been a presentation by an organization that sells software or time with their web site for paperless board meetings," Froke told the board at its Monday meeting. "This is something that's been around for a fair amount of time, only nothing I've seen has been very efficient. This appears to be a low-cost option, and something that's fairly easy to work with. They offered to do a board presentation that would take about an hour, and I was wondering if you would have any interest in taking a look at anything like this." The board indicated it would like to explore this issue further. Froke will arrange an inservice with the board and the software company providing this service. Paperless board meetings, he said, could save the school district time and money. Reports from Pierre The school board also reviewed some of the latest action of the South Dakota Legislature in Pierre, and how it will affect the Vermillion district. "I previously had reports that school infrastructure money would be available, but through the legislative process, that will no longer be available," Froke told the board. "However, there will be some funding for bonds for improvements in infrastructure — not new construction, but remodeling-type projects." He told the board of a Senate bill being considered in Pierre that would allow students to graduate before reaching the age of 18 if they reach a satisfactory score on a G.E.D. exam. "That passed the Senate quite handily, and it passed the House with a minor amendment, and now it goes back to the House for concurrence in anticipation that the bill will be passed through and signed." If approved, the legislation would allow students to graduate who achieve high G.E.D. scores as early as age 16. School board member Chris Girard told fellow board members that a bill dealing with pre-school issues had passed a House committee and is currently being considered by the Senate. "There was no funding attached to it (the bill)," she said. "It was just to set standards and set the guidelines to how it could be implemented." Froke told the board that a capital outlay bill has been approved in Pierre. "It allows some general fund expenditures to be taken out of the capital outlay area. It has a three-year sunset to it, where the bill is done after three years, so school districts really have to watch that, because if they get caught utilizing those capital outlay resources for general fund purposes and rely on that after three years, they could be in trouble by not having enough money in the general fund to shore up what has been covered in the capital outlay." The board learned from business manager Sheila Beermann that a school board election won't be required this spring. "We had two three-year positions open, and we had two petitions filed by Mark Bottolfson and Dave Stammer," she said, "so there will not be an election, and those two will be sworn-in in July." Girard informed the board of recent discussions at a recent South Dakota Association of School Boards meeting. "There was a lot of talk on the federal stimulus funding that will come to South Dakota and how the governor is proposing to use that money," she said. Girard said it appears that in the governor's original proposal to increase state aid by 3 percent to school district, the governor will take funding from reserves. "It appears in the proposal for the stimulus money, they are going to use part of that stimulus funding to put back into the reserves," she said, "which has brought about some conflicting messages from the federal goverment. "The state isn't really clear on if this is allowable or not," Girard said, "so we'll just have to wait and see what happens. It sort of defeats the purpose of stimulus money if you are going to stick it away in reserves."