Milan School Board invites public input
State cuts to affect local schools

Beth Rumsey
Staff Writer

Interim Superintendent Steve Gookins addressed the financial challenges facing Milan in the coming year due to budget cuts by the state at the regular board meeting on Monday, January 18. According to Gookins, he is currently looking into all operational costs to find ways to reduce spending to accommodate these cuts.

A citizen’s checklist created by the Indiana State Board of Education was given to board members and those attending the meeting. Patrons, teachers, administrative staff, and the board members were encouraged to use the checklist to provide valuable feedback for prospective cuts in areas such as extra-curricular offerings; salary freezes; or summer school.

For example, Gookins estimates a possible savings of $70,000 if a salary freeze is instituted. Also, he suggested reducing the number of extracurricular programs stating that he feels that Milan has more sports programs than the school can afford.

His research has found that there are areas that are already cost efficient such as the schools membership in the health consortium, which provides employee health insurance at a lower rate than offered by the state. Also, the high school has initiated a credit recovery program via the Indiana Virtual Academy at no cost to the student or the school.

In light of the upcoming budget cuts, Gookins said, “We need to look at this as an opportunity to be more efficient.”

The 1028 hearing for the elementary remodel project was presented by corporation attorney Larry Eaton. According to Eaton, the board worked very diligently to keep the project costs to a minimum, repairing only what needed to be done.

The corporation applied for and received permission to offer bonds at a low interest rate. The purchase of the bonds will fund the project. The motion to adopt the resolution to offer the bonds and take steps to begin the project was unanimously approved.

There will be a pre-bid meeting on January 28 for interested bidders. The board unanimously approved the drawings. The specs will be available at the administration office and will be accepted through February 11.

The motion to establish a rainy day fund was unanimously approved. According to Gookins, the corporation does not currently have a rainy day fund. The funds may be used towards proper operational expenses.

In other business:

• The board unanimously approved maternity leave for Chris Bushhorn and the extended leave for Kristen Cost.

• The instructors for the tutorial and remediation programs were unanimously approved.

• The school board was recognized by the Indiana School Board Association as an outstanding board.

All board members were in attendance. The next meeting will be held on Monday, February 15 beginning at 7 p.m. at the administration office.