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— Gentry School District ended its fiscal year "in good fashion," district superintendent Dr. Randy Barrett reported at Monday's school board meeting.

The ending balance for the 2009 school year was $1,410,352.26 according to Barrett's financial report. The ending balance is more than a $1 million improvement over last year's final numbers and is in line with the 10 percent carryover the Arkansas Board of Education expects the district to have each year.

"We ended the year in good fashion," Barrett said. "I believe we're on the road to recovery from fiscal distress," he added, "but we need to stay the course, do what we're doing and aim for the 10 percent ending balance each year." In a preliminary worksheet Barrett distributed to board members, he projected, figuring very conservatively, he said, at least a $1.3 million ending balance for 2010, but said the final number could reach as high as $1.5 million, depending on incoming tax revenue.

Though the State board determines when a district has met criteria necessary to request a release from fiscal distress classification, Barrett was hopeful that time would come by February of 2010, and spoke of a small possibility the matter could even come up sooner.

School board member Jim Barnes asked about an estimated $42,000 the school district would likely receive from funds which were not dispersed by the county.

The $42,000 was not included in year-end balance figures or projections, Barrett said.

Barnes suggested the district use the money to pay all the school employees a one-time bonus. Barrett calculated the amount divided among the school's 200 employees would amount to about $200 each, or $150 after deductions.

I'm all for giving the money to our staff, Barrett said, but suggested it might be better to save the money until toward the end of the year, get off fiscal distress and possibly add to the amount paid to staff if the district can do so without falling below a 10 percent yearend balance.

In order to pay a bonus now, the district would need approval from the Arkansas Department of Education, Barrett said, making the bonus questionable.

School board members took no action on the extra onetime money the districtexpects to receive, leaving it to be saved for the present time.

In other business, the school board approved a number of staff changes, including the following:

◊Transfer of Angie Moore back to kindergarten teacher from the third grade;

◊Resignation of Dan Childress as boy's soccer coach;

◊Resignation of Nancy Efurd as early intervention teacher;

◊Resignation of Jodye Pool as eighth-grade science teacher;

◊Resignations of Dorothy Slay and Connie Evens as cafeteria cooks;

◊Resignation of Rebecca Trogdon as special education bus aide;

◊Hiring of Lydia How as third-grade teacher;

◊Hiring of Tracey McCartney as third-grade teacher;

◊Hiring of Matt LeBeau as speech-language pathologist;

◊Hiring of Suzanne Carltonas eighth-grade science teacher;

◊Hiring of Sarah Bartmier as part-time middle school art teacher; and

◊Hiring Veronica Brandon as cafeteria cook.

All the new hires were approved by the ADE fiscal distress department prior to board action on Monday.

Positions the district has not yet filled include an early intervention special education paraprofessional, a special education bus aide, a boys' soccer coach and a cafeteria cook.

The board also took up and approved a request from Julian and Wanda Gladney to permit their grandson to attend alternative school in Siloam Springs but not Gentry High School.

A hazard mitigation plan for jurisdiction in Benton County was approved by the board, making it possible for the district to apply for and receive Federal Emergency Management Agency funding should a disaster occur.

News, Pages 1, 2 on 08/19/2009

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