Kujath resigns: Board approves budget, Votes to lower levy

With much regret, the Broken Bow Board of Education accepted the resignation of High School/Middle School Principal Ken Kujath Monday evening, effective July 31, 2013. Kujath will finish the year at Broken Bow, and says he only submitted his resignation this early to give the board ample time to secure a replacement. He will have served the Broken Bow school district for seven years, and will be taking advantage of the teacher retirement plan. “I really love what I do. I am doing this now for my family’s long-term security,” Kujath explained. As required by the teacher retirement plan, Kujath will have to sit out of the education system for a period of at least one year. He says he is unsure of his plans after that, but knows he will not be ready to actually retire quite yet. “I’m still looking at my different options. I may find a new challenge,” he says.Timeline Set Superintendent Mark Sievering made his recommendations to the board on a timeline for the search for a new principal. That recommendation begins with formally advertising the position starting in December, with resumes due in to him Jan. 4. Sievering says that gives potential candidates an opportunity to use the downtime over the holiday break to prepare their resumes and get them in. With his plan, the resumes would be reviewed by him the following week and narrowed down for interviews with the administrative team and himself. Following the first round of interviews the candidate field would be narrowed down to four, who would then be brought before the entire board for a round-robin interview session. Sievering says his hope is that there would be a clear choice, and the board would be able to offer a contract at the January meeting. Prior to the start of the regular meeting, the board convened for a work session for the purpose of reviewing the proposed budget for 2012-2013. They then went in to an open budget hearing and open hearing on final tax request, taking input and comments from the public. A few members of the audience offered questions and comments, including JoAnn Kottmeyer, who questioned what impact funds from the wind farm will have on the district’s finances. Dan Zach, accountant for Dana F. Cole, explained that the wind farm is considered personal property rather than real estate and therefore is assessed and taxed differently. Zach says that while the district may see substantial revenue in the first year of the wind farm’s operation, that will go down each year and likely disappear completely after seven years. Budget OptionsProposed The board had three proposed budget options to consider. Option 1 is a budget of $9,931,966 with a levy after exclusions of $1.05. Option 2 is a budget of $9,879,644 with a levy of $1.04. Option 3 is the same budget as option 1, and the same levy of $1.05, however, the board would spend no more than $1.04, contributing the additional $52,322 to cash on hand. Zach explained the purpose of the third option was to give the district some additional reserve funds. Board president Michelle Zlomke reminded the board that the levy has been at $1.05 since 2007, and approving a decrease to $1.04 could mean a cut in state aid. She also reminded the board what a cut in state aid could mean for the district. “If this cut in the levy means that next year our new superintendent has to make some cuts and some tough decisions, then we as a board need to stand behind him realizing we are the ones that made that decision,” Zlomke said as she addressed her fellow board members. Board member Ken Myers stated that had it not been for the fact that the building fund has been built up over the past few years, he probably would not support reducing the levy. He said he feels very comfortable with asking for $1.04, and believes it would be a strong gesture of good will to the taxpayers. The board approved option 2, with a budget of $9,879,644 for 2012-13, by a vote of 5-1, with Tracy Popp voting no. The board then approved the 2012-13 tax request at $6,014,454 (levy of $1.04), also by a vote of 5-1 with Popp voting no. From budgets and tax requests, the discussion moved on to a more positive note - fundraising. Little Feet Big DreamsCampaign Pam Holcomb and Janice Nozicka, representing the Broken Bow PTA, were present as discussion was presented on the “Little Feet Big Dreams” capital fundraising campaign. The campaign is sponsored by the Broken Bow Public Schools Foundation. The BBPS Foundation has partnered with the PTA, the Broken Bow Booster Club, and the Broken Bow Music Boosters to raise funds for two major projects: improvements at North Park School, and renovations to the fine arts facility in the middle school. Planned improvements at North Park are for flooring and bleachers for the new gym, and playground equipment. These items were not budgeted in to the bond specifically to keep the bond lower, with the intention of hosting a fundraising campaign for the project. Holcomb says the PTA has taken on the playground equipment as their “project” and has made that their goal this year. Estimates based on numbers from the engineer include $65,000 for the flooring for the gym, and $35,000 for the bleachers. With donations, fundraising proceeds and memorial funds received, the foundation already has $36,000 for that project, being called Phase 1. Phase 2, the fine arts renovations, currently has $152,800 from the Marchek Memorial funds and foundation funds. Because the school board will oversee those projects and make all final decisions, the board had to officially approve the fundraising efforts for the playground equipment, a wood floor in the new multi-purpose room at North Park, bleachers for the new multi-purpose room at North Park, and a remodel of the Middle School auditorium for a performing arts center. The approval was for the fundraising efforts only. Anyone who would like to contribute to any of these projects, or would like more information on the Little Feet Big Dreams campaign, may call Superintendent and BBPS Foundation Executive Director Mark Sievering at 872-6821. The only other action items the board voted on Monday were to approve Sievering to apply for poverty plan funds and LEP plan funds for 2013-14. Applications for both are due Oct. 15, 2012. The board adjourned into closed session for the purpose of discussing strategy with respect to real estate purchases. No action was taken following closed session.Next Meeting The next regular meeting of the Broken Bow Board of Education will be Oct. 15 at 7 p.m.