Superintendent Donna Burroughs presented a “State of the School” financial overview of the corporation as well as outlining the need for three major capital projects. Burroughs is in her fifth year of leading the corporation.
She began her remarks saying, “We hear neighboring schools talk about a referendum. Triton is not going to have a referendum.”
Burroughs and Business Manager, Tom McFarland, said the corporation is operating on some $300,000 less than in past years. Burroughs explained that tuition assistance from the State of Indiana is calculated on the number of students enrolled. Triton receives approximately $5,500 for each student enrolled. She said there are estimates that Marshall County schools will continue to see a decrease of 20 students each year.
Burroughs said, “We try to keep the cuts away from the kids.” According to Burroughs, they have utilized a number of ways to keep costs down including, but not limited to, not replacing retiring staff; cutting administration, secretarial, and custodial positions; and reducing bus routes. Additionally, they reduced insurance premiums, conference expenses, supplies, internet fees and only gave minimal salary increases.
She went on the say they are considering a solar energy project to help lower electricity costs. The corporation is paying $180,000 yearly in utilities costs.
Burroughs said the three projects that the board needs to begin planning to complete include a new roof at the high school, replacing a cooling system at the elementary building, and either make repairs at the old gymnasium or construct a new gymnasium.
Estimates for replacing the HVAC at Triton Elementary could reach or exceed $1 million. The roof at the high school would need to be totally replaced since it has the maximum number of layers advisable. The estimated cost is $2 million.
Probably the most controversial project concerning repairs at the old gymnasium would mean tuck pointing the bricks, replacing the windows, and bringing the building up to ADA standards at a cost of an estimated $1 million. A second option would be to build a new gymnasium onto the high school at a cost of $2 million.
Funding the projects could be done in one $5.5 million bond or splitting the project into a $3 million bond and a $2.5 million bond. McFarland indicated that doing one project would cost taxpayers an additional $.05 rate. The 2017 tax rate is $.74 as opposed to the 2016 of $.84.
Burroughs and McFarland said there is now a rainy day fund that has been funded from excess in the Transportation Fund.
A second community meeting is scheduled for 1:00 A.M. on January 24. Burroughs said they wanted to hold a daytime meeting to accommodate patrons who might not be able to attend an evening session.
Burroughs said, “We must remain competitive, remain proactive, work with the community, and watch the (state) legislature.”
Carol Anders Correspondent