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 CAB Board Agrees to Judgment

October 15, 2008 - The Charles A. Beard School Board voted unanimously last week to approve an agreed judgment against CAB for more than $750,000 owed for special education services.

The New Castle Community School Corporation filed suit against CAB in Henry Circuit Court on Oct. 2. According to the complaint, CAB owes NCCSC, which administers New Castle Area Special Services, a special education coop, $757,781.18 for payments that were due in February, August and November of 2007, and this February, plus $729 for “costs and fees.”

At a special meeting held Oct. 8, Superintendent Gary Story Storie, who started at CAB this July, said the school corporation “literally did not have the funds to keep current on this particular bill.” Saying that it’s not lawful for CAB to incur this sort of debt, he said the 2009 budget includes enough to cover special education payments to NCCSC.

The two-page agreed judgment, drafted by CAB attorney Mike Wallman, says CAB has until Dec. 31 to pay the full amount owed. If it’s not paid by year’s end, NCCSC will be entitled to interest on the full judgment at an annual rate of eight percent, and CAB will be responsible for “reasonable attorney fees and costs of collection.”

The agreed judgment next gets sent to the NCCSC School Board for its consideration. If its members approve it, the judgment will be submitted to the Henry Circuit Court, which is expected to issue an order approving the judgment and directing CAB to pay the money.

Once it receives an order from the court, CAB will then proceed with a bond issue that will provide the money needed to pay the debt by Dec. 31. Storie said the amount raised by the bonds will be paid back through CAB’s Debt Service fund over the next two years.

In other financially-related business, the board also voted unanimously at last week’s meeting to contract with Educational Services Company for a consultant to conduct a “financial health analysis” of CAB. ESC will be paid $650 for these services, plus the consultant’s mileage expenses at IRS-approved rate (now $0.585 per mile) at the time of travel.

Storie told the board that ESC had obtained a grant that allows them to provide this service to CAB and a handful of other selected schools at a greatly discounted rate. He estimated that CAB is only being charged about 10 percent, maybe less, of the actual cost.

According to the contract, the ESC consultant will do the following as part of the analysis, which Storie said he expected to be done in the next three to four months:

*Review financial reports from the past three-four years to identify possible problem areas;

*Review student enrollment and staffing patterns;

*Review revenue and spending trends for tax related funds;

*Review costs of employee health insurance and teacher retirement;

*Provide a written report of findings, observations and recommendations for tax related funds;

*Project General Fund revenue, expenditures and cash balance for 2008 and 2009;

*Give an oral report to the school board and/or administration.

The board also voted unanimously at last week’s special meeting to proceed with having CAB’s central office property at 345 N. Adams St., both real estate and building, appraised. While no decision has yet been made about whether or not to sell all or some of the property, CAB’s attorney has advised the board that state law requires two appraisers to issue a joint appraisal before any sale or transfer.

Board member Mark Fort and Board Vice President Steve Dalton made and seconded, respectively, a motion to proceed with the appraisals. However, at board member Wade Beatty’s request, the motion was amended to reflect that a list of prospective appraisers will be brought back for board approval before the property is appraised.

The issue of possibly selling the central office property was raised by the board at its Sept. 19 meeting. While the board voted at that meeting to have a title search done on the central office property, Storie said last week that the title search has not been done yet.

There was also brief discussion at last week’s meeting about the new Internet-based grading software the board voted to purchase last month.Once running, the program will allow parents and guardians to go online and monitor their students’ grades.

Board President Kevin Knott said the board would appreciate Storie working with CAB’s teachers to implement a plan that will allow CAB to begin using the new grading software by the start of second semester or sooner. Storie said the administration will do that, and teacher Tom Crawford, president of CAB’s Classroom Teachers Association, said discussions between the teachers and administration about this issue have already begun.

As revealed at the board’s September meeting, CAB’s current master contract with its teachers, only requires student grades to be updated twice each nine-week grading period. While CAB cannot mandate that teachers post online grades more frequently than that, teachers can do so on a voluntary basis.

At last week’s meeting, Crawford said he believed “an avenue that is, hopefully, acceptable to the board,” has been worked out. He said the CTA appreciated the board allowing more time to work on this issue, and urged them to reevaluate the program at the end of the school year.

Knightstown resident John Lay asked the board about additional funds leftover from the construction of Knightstown High School. Saying that CAB “didn’t just find” the money, Storie explained to Lay that no decision has been made as to how to utilize the funds.

“We need to start thinking about paying our bills before using it on something else,” Lay said, referencing the special education bills that had gone unpaid. Storie replied that the money has to be used on facilities, and Knott added that the money can also be applied toward the debt remaining for the KHS construction.

Fort clarified that he and the other two new board members who joined the board July 1, Dalton and Tim Wehr, had not been aware of this leftover money when they were running for office. He said he was “sort of upset” that this information had not been publicly shared by prior boards and administrations.

Dalton assured Lay that any decision about how to use the money would be a “big issue” on which the board would seek “plenty of community input.” He also stressed that CAB is not incurring additional debt or being subjecting property owners to higher taxes with respect to this money.

Board members also received praise at last week’s meeting. Wayne Township resident Tom True complimented the board on following through with promises to be more accommodating to members of the public wanting to address the board during meetings.

“It’s the way it should be done,” True said. “You guys do a good job. ... It’s definitely a lot better.”

The CAB School Board no longer requires members of the public to sign up in advance of meetings in order to speak during the public comments portion of the meeting. Board meetings now also regularly include a second opportunity for public comments prior to adjournment.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the CAB School Board is Tuesday, Oct. 21. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the media center at KHS.


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