By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Larned USD 495 school board provides answers
Placeholder Image

LARNED — The Fort Larned 495 school board compiled answers to questions submitted by a citizen’s group at the Jan. 7 meeting. Mike Burdett represented the local group that has recently looked at taxation in Pawnee County. The group’s goal is to understand the tax burden and mill levy. They are looking to become more informed.
This information does not include Westside School. USD 495 provides 16 certified teachers, 10 classified staff and 1 certified administrator. USD 495 does not provide any funding for Westside nor receives any funding from enrollment. USD 495 receives an administrative fee based on total salaries.
Fort Larned’s enrollment total for pre kindergarten-grade 12 is 959. The FTE enrollment is 901.
No. 1 — Out of the $7,187,806 specified as general operating funds for the 2012-2013 budget, how much is for: a. administrative expenses, including salaries and fringe benefits?
Certified Administrators — $467,845; directors — $273,956
b. For how many administrative employees?
Certified Administrators — 6; directors — 5
c. For “certified staff’ expenses, including salaries and fringe benefits?
Certified Expenses — $4,260,964
d. For how many employees?
Certified Staff — 93 (does not include Westside)
e. For “classified staff’ expenses, including salaries and fringe benefits?
Classified Expenses — $2,425,575
f. For how many employees?
Classified Staff — 122
g. For transportation expenses, including salaries and fringe benefits?
Transportation Expenses — $203,447
Fuel charge 2011-2012 — $81,317
h. For how many employees?
Transportation Employees — 15
i. How much is spent on extra-curricular programs?
Expenditures for Extra-curricular activities for 2011-2012 — $253,341
No. 2 — At the July 30 USD 495 school board meeting, it was reported that the district expects to look toward retirement of bond debt on the Larned Middle School within the next 12 to 18 months. How much remains to be paid and when that debt is paid, will taxpayers see a decrease in the district’s mill levy? If not, why not?
At the start of the 2012-2013 school year the bond debt was $1,670,000. Payoff is scheduled in 2015. Currently the budget reflects 5.803 mills for bond debt service. When this bond is paid off in 2015 these mills will be retired.
No. 3 — Why was $1,550,000 budgeted for capital outlay? For what will these funds be used? Actual capital outlay expenditures for the 2010-2011 fiscal year were shown to be $184,391. Why such a big difference?
The capital outlay budget is one of four line items that carryover is allowed. This is an area that the district maintains funds incase of major repair or purchase.
According to state statue, “The following expenditures may be paid from the capital outlay fund: acquisition, construction, reconstruction, repair, remodeling, additions to furnishing and equipping of buildings necessary for school district purposes, including housing and boarding pupils enrolled in an area vocational school operated under the board of education, architectural expenses incidental thereto, the acquisition of building sites, the undertaking and maintenance of asbestos control projects, the acquisition of school buses, and acquisition of other equipment.” (K.S.A. 72-8804)
No. 4 — Has the district looked into the potential cost saving to sub out maintenance and grounds keeping to private enterprises?
The district did let bids on mowing of grounds on Sept. 10, 1999. Bids were received from three companies on Sept. 27, 1999. Bids ranged from $1,104-$1,666 per acre.
At this time the district has 32.2 acres of maintained grounds. Cost for contracted service (based on 1999 bids) would be between $35,549 and $53,645. The district has a 12-month employee, which is assigned mowing during the appropriate season. His salary is $24,441.
No. 5 — Why doesn’t the district do preventative maintenance; for example on the roofs of our school buildings?
The district does have a preventative maintenance plan. The district works closely with EMC Insurance on roof maintenance. EMC provides analysis on all district roofs and has a ten-year scope of maintenance, repairs and replacements on all roofs. The district also has maintenance plans on air conditioners, boilers lighting and all vehicles.
No. 6 — Why is payroll done by an outside accounting firm? Can no one on staff do payroll?
The decision to contract payroll with a local accounting firm began in 2002. The reason for that decision was based on the inability of the district to keep a person in the assigned payroll position. With the turnover in that position errors were being made that was costing employees and district money.
As of October 2012, the district has hired a part-time person in-house to do payroll. During the 2011-2012 school-year monthly expense for payroll was $3,821 per month. In October 2012, payroll expense was $2,322 and in November expense was $1,062.
No. 7 — If payroll is not done in-house then are there positions that can be phased out?
Even with bringing payroll back in-house, the district office has reduced one half-time classified and a full-time curriculum director.
No. 8 — Why did the district announce a special meeting to discuss purchase of a loader and truck, on the same day of that meeting, thus limiting public involvement, when the decision to be made involved a substantial sum of money?
During the Oct. 8, 2012 BOE meeting, the board authorized the letting of bids for a loader tractor with cab and a one ton truck with landscape box and blade.
During the Nov. 12, 2012 BOE meeting bids were presented to the board. One loader bid was received (bid proposal was for new or used).
The board rejected the bid of $35,500 and informed the superintendent to release bids again, this time asking for new equipment only. Bid opening was scheduled for Nov. 30, 2012 with a special BOE meeting set at 12:15 p.m.
At the special board of education meeting on Nov. 30, 2012, the board considered three bids that were received for the loader tractor. The board accepted the bid of $26,300 from Straub International. The other bids were from BTI of Pratt ($39,500) and from Radke Implement ($35,000). At the same Nov. 12 meeting, the board considered one bid for a used one ton truck with landscape box and blade. The truck did not meet bid specs due to the engine. The decision was made to buy a used one-ton truck that meet the specs and then add landscape box and blade separately.
No. 9 — Regarding loader and truck, what types of vehicles are we speaking of; how will they be used; who will operate them; and why do we need our own vehicles?
Both pieces of equipment will be operated by USD 495 maintenance and support service personnel. Training on equipment will be conducted by both director of transportation and director of maintenance.
The truck is a 2005 or newer pre-owned one ton 4-by-4 truck with a hydraulic lift operated from the driver seated position, landscape bed with lift and 7.5 foot minimum electric over hydraulic pump with driver operated remote joystick snow plow. The loader tractor is new with cab, inline diesel with manifold warmer (minimum 750W block heater) 40 hp minimum. Hydrostat drive transmission with 4WD power steering. 3-point linkage-category 1 with telescoping link ends to include multiple position stabilize. Minimum one rear auxiliary remote valve hydraulics, double acting valves, high capacity flow. Hydraulic independent PTO type with safety guards.
A front loader with at least 2,300 pound lift capacity must be quick attach and must be built to withstand stresses of snow removal and dirt moving.
As was shared at the Oct. 8 meeting, “The benefits of obtaining a front load tractor and a one ton pick up with a landscape box and blade for district use. The tractor would be a versatile purchase that could be used for many duties such as snow and dirt removal.
“It would also be helpful with the upkeep of the many yards and fields the maintenance staff now mows. At the present time, all of the grass is bagged and pitch forked onto the pickups for removal. It takes approximately three pickup loads per field. The tractor would make removal more efficient and cost effective. Being able to remove a majority of the snow at the district will save money. There will be a savings in labor hours.
“The 2,300 lift capacity of the loader will assist greatly in pulling pallets off trucks and moving other heavy objects that go to the service center for delivery.”