Mar 232012

By Teri Walker —

The Joseph City Unified School District Governing Board voted 3-2 last week to approve a nearly $1 million project aimed at improving energy efficiency in district facilities.

The contract, which is estimated at just over $995,000, is being awarded to Midstate Energy Performance of Phoenix to begin upgrades and replacement this year of lighting and HVAC systems, and installation of demand-control ventilation systems. The district will also be installing an energy-efficiency tool for vending machines that turns off lighting and manages cooling cycles when the machines are not in use.

It is estimated the upgrades could save the school district $70,000 per year in utility costs.

In other business, Business Manager Carol Henderson reported the results of a state analysis of dollars spent in Arizona classrooms, which shows Joseph City School District spent more dollars in the classroom than its peer schools. Where peer schools spent $4,919 in the classroom in 2011, Joseph City spent $5,421, according to a report produced by the Office of the Auditor General. Joseph City’s contributions in the classroom are also higher than the state average, which was $4,098 in 2011.

In a five-year trend analysis, the Auditor General found that Joseph City has increased its total spending per pupil by nine percent.

The report included a few additional statistics about the district:

* Joseph City students outpace peer and state averages in meeting state standards in AIMS testing in all three areas of math, reading and writing.

* While the district’s attendance rate for teachers and students is the same as the state average at 95 percent, Joseph City’s graduation rate of 97 percent is far higher than its peer average of 82 percent and the state average of 78 percent.

* The average teacher salary of $44,400 is higher than the peer average of $41,429, but lower than the state average of $45,637.

* Teacher experience is greater at Joseph City, with teachers averaging 12.9 years experience, peers averaging 12.6, and statewide 10.9 years.

* Joseph City teachers averaged additional performance salary earnings of $2,951.

* In food service, Joseph City costs per meal are significantly higher than peer and state averages, which Henderson says is attributable to the small number of students participating in the free lunch program. Joseph City cost per meal equivalent is $4.36 while the peer average is $3.04 and state average is $2.45.

Dealing with a series of housekeeping items, the board approved the 2012-2013 district calendar and conducted a first reading of policy changes recommended by the Arizona School Boards Association.

The board also approved a letter of declaration regarding the district’s line of credit with Wells Fargo Bank. The letter affirms the district will issue less than $30 million dollars in total debt during 2012.

Henderson was granted approval to issue a request for proposals for counseling services. The district’s five-year contract with Arizona Psychology, which has been providing counseling services in the school, ends June 30.

Henderson alerted the board that in order for district organizations to be able to spend tax credit money donated each year, a fee account must be established for each receiving organization. The board approved a $1 fee per student for the technology, annual, drama and FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) clubs. The clearance card fees assessed for participation in sports and cheerleading already covers the tax credit fee.

Finally, the board undertook a number of personnel actions including appointing Frank Sweet as a fleet maintenance worker, working 30 hours per week. Larry Baldwin, Julie Cochran and Ericka Hunt were hired as substitute teachers, and Bryce Crosby will be the swimming pool assistant manager. The board accepted Hunt’s resignation as a library aide.

The board approved Gayla Smith as a volunteer for junior high track and Gary Sanderlin for junior high track.

A decision about rehiring Teddi Baird as a junior high/ high school teacher through the Educational Services, Inc., “employee lease back program” was postponed until the next board meeting, when it will be addressed alongside the rest of the district’s rehire requests.