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07-14-04 Penny pinching pays off for Marion Local Schools

By Margie Wuebker

  MARIA STEIN -- Marion Local Schools board of education discovered Tuesday night the amount of red ink in the budget is considerably less than expected.

  Treasurer Paul Gagel distributed financial statements for the fiscal year ended June 30. They showed a deficit of $78,582.52, which translated to $35,314.39 when Gagel factored in dollars from federal programs. Open enrollment revenue also helped to stem the flow of red ink.
  The deficit will be covered by a carryover balance of $1.6 million.
  Operating receipts totaled $7,724,794 with disbursements coming in at $7,803,376. The greatest revenue came from state sources yielding $4,520,516.56 followed by $2,182,654.63 in taxes. The largest expenditure was instruction costs at $4,452,349 followed by supporting services at $2,071,482.71. These figures represent employee salaries and benefits.
   "Overall, I'm happy with the figures," Gagel added. "We are looking pretty good. The staff and principals are to be commended for pinching pennies."  He had expected a deficit in the area of $200,000 to $300,000. However, there are purchase orders amounting to $270,000 on his desk.
  Gagel explained less than $50,000 of those orders are carryovers from the recently completed fiscal year while the remainder are for items and supplies to cover much of the 2004-2005 school year.
  Board President Tess Mescher stressed the need for continued vigilance in regard to expenditures, adding no one knows what the financial future holds. The board has reiterated that message at previous meetings, including the June session when it turned down a request for additional financial support for the band.
  "The state budget does not seem as bad as initially projected," Superintendent Andy Smith said. "That doesn't mean we will get more money; it means we may not face any more cuts."
  Following a 62-minute executive session, board members approved 2.25 percent wage increases for the superintendent, high school Principal Ron Hertel, elementary Principal Karen Post, Curriculum Director Greg Puthoff, Technology Coordinator Dot Garman and the treasurer. The percentage is the same as teachers and non-certified employees received earlier. Like other employees, administrators will pick up 3 percent of insurance costs.
  In other action, the board:
   Learned summer school started Monday with sessions from 8:30-11 a.m. at the elementary building. It continues through July 22.
   Heard a report regarding the purchase of a milk vending machine for the elementary/junior high building. Donations from Mercer County Landmark, the American Dairy Association, Maria Stein Grain Company, Dr. Mark Hardesty, Land O' Lakes, Marion Young Farmers and Vita Plus Corporation covered the $4,100 cost.
   Approved supplemental contracts to Todd Ashbaugh, Rod Pleiman and Marge Vantilburg to teach one extra period per day. This is due to large classes at their respective grade levels.
   Received an update on summer cleaning noting the staff is currently two weeks ahead of schedule. Classroom bookcases are being constructed as donated materials arrive.
   Prepared for the 2004-2005 school year by approving bids for such things as bread and buns, milk, water softening salt, bus tires, propane and trash pickup service.
   Heard a report on efforts to protect school computers in the wake of increased viruses and spyware. Among the things under consideration are software programs that automatically perform overnight Windows security updates.
   Discussed a rumor regarding cheerleaders heading to camp in Miami, Fla. Squads attended camp at Miami University in Oxford with each girl paying her own way, board members learned.
   Moved the date of the next meeting from Aug. 10 to Aug. 9 at 7:30 p.m.


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