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USC Board has closed session for lawsuit talks

By Staff | Sep 22, 2019

The first order of business for the United South Central School Board last Tuesday, Sept. 17, was to go into closed session to engage in discussions with the School Board’s legal counsel related to threatened litigation by a former staff member.

“The Board of Directors seeks legal advice on the status of the matter, alleged claims against the District, the District Attorney’s analysis of the same, and the District’s options for responding to and resolving these claims,” stated School Board chairman Dale Stevermer before moving into closed session.

The board spoke in closed quarters, without board member Tom Legred present, for approximately 30 minutes before the meeting was reconvened to the public.

Board member Diana Brooks made a motion to approve a resignation agreement and release claims as presented and Jon Feist seconded the motion, with no opposition from the board.

No further information regarding the pending litigation was made public, including the name of the staff member involved.

In other topics, the School Board met with USC’s finance manager, Stacie Whiteside, to discuss some minor revisions made to the school’s 2019-20 budget. Whiteside informed the board of minor adjustments to the budget that were incomplete during their July School Board meeting when board members approved the budget. A motion was made by Brooks to approve the minor changes to the budget, while Mike Schrader seconded the motion. USC’s new school budget was passed.

The board also spoke with Whiteside with regards to the school’s 2020 levy. Compared to last year’s levy, the 2019 payable 2020 levy increased by only $105,105, a total increase of 5 percent. Those increases came from facility maintenance.

“The levy has no big surprises and didn’t change a whole lot. I lumped the first four lines together, it really adds up to some negative adjustments from last year, and that’s the difference between what we had last year and what we’ll get this year and that’s just because they’re always going back the last three years with the updated enrollment numbers to make sure they have things right,” Whiteside shared. “The one adjustment we do have for this year is long-term facility maintenance and that was because we got paid for hold harmless in fiscal year 2017 and we ended up not spending as much as our 10-year plan said we were going to, so they’re taking that back because we didn’t spend it.”

In debt and OPEB areas, Whiteside stated the adjustments are just debt excess because the school levies 105 percent of their payments so that if there is unpaid taxes and abatements, they have enough to pay their bond.

“And then they just re-evaluate how much of a cushion you have every year and take it back so it doesn’t get out of hand,” said Whiteside. ” I don’t think there will be any other changes.”

The levy was set at the max amount of $3,608,044.06, and Schrader made a motion to approve the levy, with Brad Heggen seconding the motion, which passed.

“Is there a motion to set the Truth in Taxation meeting for Dec. 17, at 6 p.m. in the USC Community Ed room?” asked chairman Stevermer. Heggen made the motion, with Stevermer seconding the motion. It also passed.

Finally, the board considered options for an entrance sign and electronic display and, if necessary, approve the proposed plan for the entrance sign. Little discussion was had, as the board seemed to be on the same page with regards to a $43,772 electronic sign. Other options included a two-sided aluminum sign, but the board was more interested in the multicolor, digital display sign with a concrete base.

“This has been a huge part of our strategic plan for some time,” said Brooks. “We’ve been working on marketing the school district more and the public relations committee believes this will benefit our district the most.”

Brooks informed the board that Wells Concrete would do the base work at a discount for the school, while other local contractors were also vocal about assisting the school with labor and costs.

With no opposition to the motion of accepting the electronic sign, which was made by Brooks and was seconded by Heggen, it was passed.

The USC School Board also:

Approved the purchase of two 10-passenger vans.

Had a first reading of the revised Board Policy 8020 Disposition of Obsolete Equipment and Material, and a second reading of a new Board Policy 7130 Student Activity Accounting.