The R-3 School Board agreed Thursday night to seek citizen involvement in hiring a new superintendent for the next school year.
Board President Leroy Wade suggested and the board approved a plan to set up a screening committee that would include two school board members, two members of the school's administrative staff, two teachers and two members of the community.
Members of the community interested in serving on the screening committee can contact the board president or the interim superintendent.
Wade also suggested that the hiring process include a presentation by each of the finalists for superintendent to a citizen group.
The screening committee is expected to be appointed by mid-March. Wade also offered a tentative schedule for completion of various stages of the job search.
The board's attorney, Pete Yelkovac of St. Louis, has volunteered to assist and offer legal advice to the board during the job search at no cost to the board.
Interim Superintendent Thomas Baugh said he has decided to rebid the school's food service contract. He said the addresses of several vendors provided by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was out of date and many vendors did not receive the invitation to bid until after the deadline.
Baugh said the district's health insurance is likely to face increases in premiums partly because of new regulations under the new federal health care law. He said premium increases of about 15 percent may be needed.
He noted the school provides health insurance at no cost to all employees as an incentive for employment.
Baugh said he would like to explore joining a consortium of other schools in order to have a larger pool of employees and gain a lower insurance rate. He said in such a consortium the superintendents involved in the group agree on three separate plans to offer each employee. One is minimum benefits, the second is medium benefits, and the third choice offers expanded benefits with employees picking up part of the added cost if this option is desired.
The board also was told by the district's municipal bond underwriter, L.J. Hart & Co., that it could save from $40,000 to $80,000 by reissuing the district's current $600,000 bond issue that is callable next month. The district is now paying an interest rate of 4.43 percent and by reissuing the bonds it would be paying 3.60 percent.
The board also was told that when this bond and several other bonds were issued the district was expected to have a revenue growth of 3.5 percent each year but that has not occurred. That means that the board at its meeting in August will have to raise its levy for debt service to finance all of its outstanding bonds. Tom Pisarkiewicz of the bonding firm recommended the board increase the levy by 20 cents from $1.14 to $1.34 per $100 assessed valuation. He added that the board does not need to take a vote of the people on this levy increase because the board has the power to raise the tax rate for debt service up to $1.89 per $100 assessed valuation.
Baugh said he no longer is concerned about overuse of substitute teachers during the current school year.
Baugh said he mistakenly told the school board last Dec. 16 that the school's budget was $80,000 over the budgeted amount for salaries for substitute teachers.
"In looking back at the figures, what I should have said was that we were on a pace to spend $80,000 on substitute teacher pay with only $51,400 in the budget. Since that time the use has slowed. As of this month, we have spent only $21,823 on substitute teachers with $29,576 left in the budget," Baugh said.
He added the use of substitute teachers has decreased the last two months. "It looks like we should be well within the budget," Baugh said.
High School Principal Suzanne Lackman told the board she received a letter from Sgt. Clay Chism of the Callaway County Sheriff's Department praising the New Bloomfield school system for improving discipline of students.
Chism said he has visited the New Bloomfield school numerous times in recent months and he has noted an improvement in the demeanor and attitude of students he has encountered in the hallway, cafeteria or administrative offices.
During a vandalism investigation at the school, Chism said he was impressed by students who gave honest and factual information.
In his letter to the high school principal, Chism wrote "It is unfortunate many children do not learn the value of honesty at home, and school administrators are forced to instill such a simple value. That value is being advocated greatly by the school administration. I and other deputies have taken notice."