The ISD 318 school board met for a regular meet Monday, June 7 with a short agenda to work through. Board members discussed the impacts of hiring more teachers on the district’s general fund budget. The board has been working to get the district’s budget in a healthier state and to move away from deficit spending.
Board members considered approving the permission to post for ASIS (Alternative Specialized Instructional Services) positions as the district was awarded Alternative Delivery of Specialized Instructional Services (ADSIS) funding. The district would be looking to hire six teachers and six ESPs for fiscal year 2021-22 and 2022-23. The grant funds these positions at a rate of 50-60%.
Board member Pat Medure requested the board hold off on hiring until they can discuss the impacts of the positions at the board’s June 21 workshop.
“I’m just a little concerned with this and how it’s going to affect our general fund budget,” Medure stated.
Board member David Marty asked Human Resources Director Kasie VanQuekelberg if holding off on hiring would have a negative impact. VanQuekelberg stated they expect many internal candidates to apply for the positions, meaning the district would need to hire external candidates to fill the open roles in June and July.
“It just gets harder as the months go,” stated VanQuekelberg. “By statute, some districts don’t have to let teachers out of their contracts after June 30. So some of them will do that if they can’t find a replacement. So it gets difficult to hire after that day.”
However, she added that elementary teacher roles are typically easier to fill than others.
“I’ve got mixed emotions on this,” stated Board Member Ben Hawkins. “One, we’ve known all along that we were going to be at a zero fund balance at the end of this year for the end of 2021. And so reductions will need to be made again next year. But these dollars, these grant dollars, allow us to backfill some positions that we couldn’t have without.”
VanQuekelberg clarified that those hired for the ASIS positions would know that their position could be cut if additional funding isn’t found after the two year ADSIS grant funding is used. But, they would be a part of the teaching unit and could move into another position if it is available.
“Whether we hire these or not, if the grant is there I think we should use it,” Hawkins said.
Medure clarified that he is not opposed to using the grant, but that he is concerned about spending more from the general fund as only 50-60% of the expense is covered by the grant.
“So that 40-50% has to come from someplace and I’m assuming that’s the general fund,” said Medure.” So my point was that, are we digging ourselves deeper?”
Board members decided to approve the posting of the positions and will discuss the impact on the general fund at the upcoming workshop on June 21 before proceeding with hiring.
In other business, the board took action on the following items:
• Approved the Forum Partnership Agreement for the Myles Reif Performing Arts Center. This partnership is a collaboration between ISD 318, the Itasca Orchestra and Strings program, the Grand Rapids Players Inc. and the Reif Arts Council.
These partners meet on a monthly basis, “ for the purpose of defining the scope, roles and responsibilities for the use of the Myles Reif Performing Arts Center and for the good of the greater Grand Rapids community,” according to the meeting’s packet. Superintendent Matt Dass and Activities Director Anne Campbell are the representatives for ISD 318.
• Approved the minutes of May 24, 2021 regular school board meeting.
• Approved the May 2021 claims in the amount of $5,531,291.66.
• Board members approved the meeting’s consent agenda including the following staffing changes: Cheryl Collinge, ESP retirement; Meade Davis, Teacher replacement hire; Brian Matthews, ESP resignation; Emma McClure, Special Education Teacher replacement hire; and Craig Pederson, Custodian resignation.