Congratulations on completing a successful school year! I appreciate everyone's hard work and dedication for making this year one of the best ever. The successes would not have been possible without everyone's efforts. Regardless of your position, you play an important role in the great things happening across the District. Thank you for everything you do! Have a wonderful summer!
Woodland Early Childhood Center became the official name of the new early childhood center after the Board's approval at the May meeting. The name was chosen based on its historic connection with the District. Woodland originally served as a one room schoolhouse beginning in the early 1900s, and more recently became the current day central office in 1958. We look forward to the new early childhood center opening in January 2019.
The 2018-2019 budget proposal will be presented to the Board at the June 12 meeting. The April 2017 levy passage continues to play a major role in allowing us to run a balanced budget (something that hadn't been done in 10 years prior to the levy passage). This is important as our fund balances had been spent down in previous years to a point where major budget cuts were imminent had the levy not passed.
I believe employees are the most important part of our organization and I will always do as much as possible regarding salary and benefits while remaining fiscally responsible. My recommendation to the Board will include steps and movement and $125 per cell to the teacher salary schedule. It also includes making some needed changes to the classified salary schedule to allow various employees to work toward being 'on market' as compared to staff in area Districts.
In order to improve salaries, the District has to evaluate our approach to benefits, especially health insurance. I am proud of the health insurance benefits that Fort Osage provides employees, but the cost in recent years is having an ever-increasing impact on our budget (see below for the history of health insurance costs).
As compared to metro districts, Fort Osage is one of a select few who offer a PPO (non-high deductible plan) as a base plan. Further, the base plan that Fort offers is more rich (lower deductibles and lower out of pocket costs) than most other districts. Additionally, Fort Osage contributes more money to employees’ Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) than 32 area districts (only one metro District contributes more).
The current budget proposal recommends the District makes the same contribution toward insurance as the current year ($581.30). This is being done as our current estimated increase is 7%, which would be an additional cost of $246,000. Once our premium increase is known in October, the insurance committee and I will determine specific plans and the coverage they provide. Rest assured that the health coverage offered to Fort Osage staff will still be better than most of the area districts, and the District will include a variety of plans to choose from and continued contributions to HSAs.
Go365 participation is critical as it continues to buy down our increase and maximize the value of the District’s contribution to insurance. In order to have additional buy down of our rate increase, we are encouraging staff to work toward Gold and Platinum status. If you have any questions regarding this process you may contact Laura Ford.
Fort's Cost for Insurance
Stadium and Warehouse Freezer: The work for both projects has continued with a lot of progress being made. The freezer is nearing completion and is estimated to be done soon. The field turf has been installed and the base for the track is scheduled to be poured this week. Completion of the stadium is scheduled for this summer.
Walking Trails and FPUE Playground: The work on the existing walking trails at Buckner, Blue Hills and the hard play area at the Fire Prairie playground will begin soon.
Roof Tops: Roof repairs at Fire Prairie, Blue Hills and the District Warehouse have been completed.
High School Breezeway: Work to enclose the existing breezeway will begin May 29 and is scheduled to be completed before school begins in August.
Early Childhood Center: Crews are continuing to work on the building frame, driveway and parking lot. The project is on schedule to open during the second semester of the 2018-2019 school year.
Next year students and staff will frequently hear that ‘Every Minute Matters’, the theme of our district-wide attendance initiative. Over the past several months a group of staff, parents and administrators have worked together to design a variety of components to this comprehensive initiative.
We all understand that regular attendance is critical to success in school and life. While many of our students and families share this belief, there are others who don’t consider school attendance a high priority. With this initiative we will be working to improve attendance at all schools, particularly for those students whose attendance is below 90%. The plan is to provide incentives, share lots of information through our website and social media, and communicate regularly about individual and collective attendance rates in order to bring the problem to light.
Improving attendance is a complex problem, and we will need the support of staff, students and families across the District in order to make an impact. Through this initiative we hope to achieve the state’s target of at least 90% of students with 90% attendance, and even more importantly we hope to lay the foundation that will support students in being successful throughout their lives.
For those of you interested, 4 Royals tickets will be given away to the Wednesday, June 13th Royals game vs. the Reds. There will be two winners drawn with each person winning two tickets each. To enter please send an email to email@example.com with "Royals" in the subject line. Entries will be accepted until 8:00 am on Tuesday, May 29th.
Give Away prizes are not purchased with District funds. Only Fort Osage employees are eligible to enter the drawing.