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Medina school district finances improving

Special to The Courier

Finances for Medina ISD are looking up as the administration and school board find ways to increase revenues and decrease expenditures.
"Every month will be improving from now until the end of the budget year," Superintendent Dr. Jack Cockrill said at the regular monthly meeting of the school board held Monday, April 14.
Three vacant positions, including an elementary principal post, have not been replaced, and the district is finding innovative ways to reduce other expenditures and increase revenues for the upcoming year.
Approximately $196,000 in increased revenues have been identified, including a special education grant, $42,000; state revenue new formula, $49,992; and an updated and corrected child nutrition program, $15,000.
Also, there has been a student count improvement for economically disadvantaged, $29,231; a grant through the rural education achievement program, $16,000; and an appraisal district adjustment, $8,000.
In addition, Cockrill said establishing a 3- and 4-year-old program at Arms of Hope, as well as expanding the program at Medina ISD, will result in a revenue increase of at least $35,750.
The superintendent credited Bill Orr, a school financial specialist employed by the district, for identifying many of the sources of the increased revenue.
Cockrill said approximately $17,540 in reduced expenses have also been achieved for the next school year, primarily by the central office staff, in items ranging from reduced telephone lines to service agreements.
Most of these savings are already being realized during the current year.
The full savings anticipated include reducing Region 20 services, $2,500; reduce TECS federal services, $6,000; adjusted termite treatment at rental property, $1,000; and reduced telephone lines not in use, $1,500.
Also, adjusting the telephone plan, $1,000; reduction in other contract services, $1,040; fire alarms monitoring and inspections, $2,000; and moving to two referees next year in basketball, $2,500.
"The staff has done a wonderful job in trying to find every way to increase revenues and reduce expenditures," Cockrill said.
The projected fund balance is now estimated at $164,627, but Cockrill expects greater gains.
"My projection is that the fund balance will be more than $300,000 by the end of the fiscal year," he said.
In other news, the board heard a presentation on the new graduation plan that will be in effect for entering freshmen in the 2014-15 year.
Principal John McNamara said the minimum plan calls for 22 credits, but all students are encouraged to participate in the 26-credit foundation plan with an endorsement and/or distinguished level of achievement.
McNamara compared the foundation plan with endorsement to a major in college, explaining that students would focus on one particular area during their high school years.
Medina ISD will offer an arts and humanities endorsement that would emphasize art, theater, foreign language and journalism; the STEM endorsement for science and mathematics; business and industry will include an emphasis on animals, ag mechanics, wildlife, information technology, hospitality and tourism, and education and training; multidisciplinary studies rounds out the selection of endorsements that will be offered.
In addition, McNamara told the board that the school is studying the possibility of implementing a modified block schedule next year for secondary students.
Under the plan, students would attend only half of their classes for longer periods of time four days a week; students would attend all eight classes one day a week.
Board members asked for more research on the issue, which Cockrill said had some advantages for students and staff.
"We are going to have a leaner staff next year and the modified block schedule would allow the teachers to focus on four preps a day compared to seven," he said. "The students would have the same advantage as well."
No decision has been made on the schedule, according to Cockrill, with input being drawn from staff and other schools before making another presentation to the board.
In other news, the board voted to employ Paul Harris, a science teacher at the high school, to be the boys' basketball coach.
Harris has coached high school basketball for more than 12 years in the past, including stints at the Dilley, Center Point and Boerne school districts. He has also coached a variety of other sports.
The upcoming events scheduled are the sports banquet for Thursday, May 22, the academic awards ceremony will be held on Monday, May 19, and the FFA-Ag Banquet is slated for Friday, May 16.