Madison-Plains anticipates new financial outlook

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(Posted May 16, 2018)

By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer

The Madison-Plains Local School District finds itself in a position it hasn’t been in for a long time—working in the black.

This comes after the district apparently passed a request for a 1.25 percent earned income tax to generate an estimated $1.9 million a year for five years for operating expenses. Unofficial results from the May 8 election show the request passed by 27 votes and that the number of provisional votes yet to be counted is fewer than the apparent margin of victory, said Treasurer Todd Mustain at the May 15 school board meeting.

But both Mustain and Superintendent Tim Dettwiller cautioned it was too early to celebrate since the Madison County Board of Elections won’t certify the official vote until May 29.

Should the certified vote confirm the levy’s passage, Mustain said, the district’s updated five-year financial forecast will show no red ink at the bottom line for the next five years, with a cash balance of just over $2 million at the end of this fiscal year.

“We’re in a position where the balance on the five-year forecast shows something we haven’t had in a long time,” he said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had a forecast in the black.”

School safety

Dettwiller addressed threats of violence the school district has received in recent weeks and months.

“We’ve had bomb threats and we’ve had gun threats,” he said.  “We have found no evidence where they were credible.  We are working hand-in-hand with the Sheriff’s Office on these.”

He said authorities have interviewed individuals regarding the threats, but “they’re not pinning it on any student.”

Recent threats have been written on the walls of a school bathroom. Dettwiller said the school could post someone at the entrance of each bathroom and have people sign in and out. A district parent suggested enlisting the aid of parents to do bag checks at the beginning of the school day.

Work is under way to improve security around the campus. Dettwiller said new security cameras will provide wider views.

“We’re hoping that will deter the graffiti,” he said.

He also said the district is replacing doors at several locations this summer.

“We want to get moving on the doors,” he said.

Superintendent transition/search

Dettwiller, whose resignation becomes effective in July, listed goals set and met during his tenure:

– staying off the ballot for as long as possible;

– beautifying the campus and facilities;

– increasing enrollment;

– renewing the permanent improvement levy;

– improving academics; and

– finding new operating funds.

He said another item on his list was to start a master plan. Such an item might be on the desk of his successor.

Board President Mark Mason said the district received 18 applications for the superintendent’s position. Six to eight candidates are being invited back for interviews. A second round of interviews will take place before a successor is chosen.

The board will hold special meetings at 6 p.m. May 23 and 6 p.m. June 5. The next regular meeting is at 7 p.m. June 14.

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