MARSHALL - The Marshall School board took action on two items in addition to generating discussion on a number of other issues at the work session meeting Monday at the Marshall Middle School.
The board unanimously voted for the ratification of the 2011-2013 master agreement
"We did a comprehensive review of the language, trying to streamline some things and make things a little smaller because there are some places where it was more of a philosophical statement more than anything," Marshall Superintendent Klint Willert said. "We cleaned that up."
One of the biggest changes, Willert said, was in the leadership team structures, particularly the peer coaches and coordinating of teacher. Category I, which has the most competitive schedule, saw the most change.
"We have a common fee structure for certain activities, so why shouldn't we have a common compensation rate?" Willert said.
For the most part, Willert said, health insurance stayed the same. Willert did note one change in the QComp language. The new research project format, he said, would now allow teachers "a richer environment" to meet personal goals.
The board also approved putting 11 teachers on unrequested leave. Those affected were Stephanie Hebig, Christine Hess, Laurie Nord, Micah Nordin, Fay Prairie, Jennifer Schultz, Karrie Steffen, Mary Suelflow, Cristin Winter, Marissa Brody and Mirinda Bye.
Willert said it's a process the district has to take with teachers who are probationary instructors, have a limited licensure, or have variances to their teaching licensure.
"Whenever we have somebody that's on a variance within our system, they are placed on unrequested leave," Willert said. "They certainly have the opportunity, if they wish, to reapply for another position within the district and possibly continue on, but this is part of that process."
The unrequested leave of absence becomes effective at the end of the school year. Willert said the board's decision allows the administration to begin the process of advertising the position and making the steps toward filling those positions.
In a presentation Monday, business director Bruce Lamprecht gave an overview of how School Finances.com works. It's a tool the district purchases and has used since 2006. Before that, Lamprecht said more "guess work" was involved.
"It's a great program," Lamprecht said. "We can provide a lot of different assumptions, whether it's in the area of revenue or expenditures or enrollment, whatever the case might be. It helps us plan ahead."
Lamprecht used the program to adjust several key components, showing the varying degrees of impact on the budget.
"You can try different scenarios, make changes and see how it works," he said. "It's utilized very heavily with budget planning in our district. They have great tech support, too."
The five-year financial plan projection looks steady for the district, barring any radical, unforeseen changes.
"As it looks right now, we're standing in pretty good shape," Willert said. "There is not a projected deficit (for the school year 2012-13), though that does not reflect any personnel or program changes that might occur."
The district has several positive factors that are tipping the scales toward having a positive fund balance for the fiscal year 2013, including a projected 1.5 percent increase in student enrollment and funding increases for a variety of reasons.
Weighted enrollments, in which high school students are funded more heavily than elementary students, is one of the uptick factors.
"Because of the weighted enrollments, as we see larger classes coming in at the lower levels and smaller classes leave the high school, that certainly impacts our overall enrollment issue," Willert said.
There's also talk about using a joint effort to put together flexible text books in the science areas, thus saving a possible $100,000.
"We know that as we looked at the priorities that we set out, technology is going to be a big one," Willert said. "We're moving forward with that."
One new funding source came forward in the form of $36,000 in literacy aid from the state.
"We haven't specifically earmarked money for it, but I'm going to suggest when it comes time for our budget, that we do use the revenue we received from the state in terms of new literacy aid," Willert said. If or when the district gets asked how effective the aid was, Willert said MPS could respond with a valid answer.
"When they ask us if this revenue makes a difference, we'll have something very specific that we can point to and say 'yes, it did, and here's how,' or 'no, and here's why,'" he said.
The district is also looking at receiving a projected $151,000 in compensatory funding.
"The compensatory funding is something that is impacted by some of the changing demographics that we have in our system, free and reduced lunch in particular," Willert said. "The thrust of all these dollars ultimately, when it's all said and done, will be all about closing the achievement gap."
Much like the state, which is working on improving learning, Willert said he always challenges the district's administrative team. That effort could mean a reduction in fund balance, though, in future budget discussions.