JEWELL - School board members at South Hamilton had a variety of issues on their agenda in their regular monthly session Monday evening.
The meeting kicked off with a reorganization of the board. Officers of the board will remain the same for the next school year, as board members re-elected Mike Grove as chairman of the board. Will Johnston will again serve as vice-chair. Board meetings will continue to be held on the second Monday evening of each month at 6 p.m. at the school.
The board spent time considering and discussing options for a retirement program for the district. Currently, there is not one in place, although at times there has been. Superintendent Tim Johnson encouraged the board to look closely at the issue, saying "We need to be consistent with our teaching staff, and I think we owe it to our teachers to do this (retirement plan) every single year."
Jim Klein, a veteran SH teacher who was at the meeting, agreed with Johnson. "This plan should be predictable. It should be based on number of years here and not on salary."
'Not a retirement plan'
"This is not a retirement plan," pointed out board member Kempton Young. "This is a bonus."
Johnson told the board that having a plan in place is a benefit to the district. "This is not about trying to push teachers out the door. This is about saving the district money," he said. "I want to advocate for our district and for our teachers."
Marie Johnson, a retired SH teacher who now serves on the school board, noted that adopting a new retirement program is a change in philosophy for the district.
In the end, the retirement program approved by the board starts at age 55 for teachers with at least 15 years of service at South Hamilton and caps at 25 years. Retiring teachers receive $1,000 for each year of service and must inform the school board of their plan to retire by December 1. This is an ongoing plan that starts this year.
The retirement plan will be the same for support staff, except they will be paid $500 for each year of service. The board will consider a retirement plan for administrators at their next meeting.
Another weighty issue on Monday's agenda was considering how to best pay off the $537,000 balance on the kitchen/commons remodel project that was completed in August. Johnson recommended borrowing from the general fund with plans to pay off the balance by Oct. 31, 2013.
After considering some other options, the board passed a resolution to borrow $540,000 from the general fund at one percent interest and to pay $30,000 per month with a balloon payment at the end of the period.
Also on Monday, Johnson reviewed enrollment figures with the board. Official count day was Oct. 1, while the date for state certification of enrollment is Oct. 18. Although figures are not yet firm, Johnson told the board he is confident that the final enrollment number will be within five more or five less than for the 2011-12 school year.
The board heard an update on work by the technology committee as they consider options for the current student laptops. The four-year lease on the laptops expires next year. Johnson said that the committee hopes to have a recommendation for the board by January.
The only personnel issue on Monday's agenda was approving Wayne Risetter as a permanent long-term substitute bus driver.