In a two-and-a-half-hour meeting on Tuesday, June 11, the members of the Pierre school board slogged their way through a tentative budget for the coming school year. Put together by District Business Manager Darla Mayer, the budget covered plans and estimated costs for them in the District’s general fund, Special Education fund and Food Service fund, just to name a few.
“You guys are doing great,” Mayer said encouragingly to the other board members at several points as they got into the weeds with the district’s money. While a detailed and more finalized budget will be published later in July, here are some highlights from the meeting to keep in mind:
The district may need another instructor to assist students who are not proficient in English. An increased number of students whose native language is not English entered the school district this year, and the possibility of more arriving next year may necessitate the hiring of a new multilingual instructor. District Superintendent Dr. Kelly Glodt said most, but not all, of the students who may need language assistance speak Spanish.
Rural Health Network, Inc. recently told district officials that it would no longer provide a school nurse for the district. This would bring the total number of school nurses in the district down to three. Glodt and other board members said they believed this may be too few. “I can’t imagine telling our nurses to make do... would be a popular decision,” Glodt said. To hire a new nurse, Mayer said the nursing budget would have to increase by about $29,000 for pay and benefits.
Board members also considered an additional position for “School Safety Officer,” to help maintain the physical safety and security of the different school buildings. This position would cost the district approximately an additional $50,000 in pay and benefits, Mayer said.
After half a century, in some cases, teachers’ desks throughout the district are finally set to be replaced. This was met by cheers by some members of the board, particularly veteran teacher Dennis James. Mayer said the rollout of the new desks was likely to take about a year, not finishing until sometime next summer.
As with Stanley County School District, the Pierre District’s pension fund is on the way out. “Next year will be the last year for pensions,” Mayer said. After next year, any remaining money in the pension fund will be rolled into the general fund, “and that fund will cease to exist forever,” Mayer said. School officials in Stanley County previously said that their retired teachers from now on would be supported by the South Dakota Retirement System; it is expected that Pierre will also make the switch.