Daniel Boone School Board to discuss staffing needs at June 12 meeting

Faced with a 2017-18 budget deficit and the possibility of a 3.2 percent tax increase, Daniel Boone School Board members will discuss the district’s staffing needs at the June 12 Committee-of-the-Whole meeting.

“Student enrollment is decreasing, but special education enrollment is increasing,” said Shelly Mieczkowski at the board’s May 22 meeting.

She is director of special education for the district and is requesting that the district hire for a special education learning coach position.

“Four years ago I lost two teachers,” said Mieczkowski, adding, “We need to start being proactive. We need help being proactive so that we don’t identify students as [needing] special education.”

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Superintendent James P. Harris previously discussed the possible need to furlough one elementary teacher due to decreasing student enrollment.

A furlough would also decrease the district’s 2017-18 expenditures and help to balance the budget.

“Of course the position is beneficial, but is it needed?” asked board member Connor Kurtz.

“If it is needed, we have time to develop it for the 2018-19 budget,” said board member Richard Martino.

“We need many things -- an assistant principal at Monocacy Elementary Center,” said Harris.

“This came out of a workshop meeting of ‘what do you need?’”

“I understand the legalities of special education, but this is jumping ahead. It was brought up at a workshop meeting, but has taken on a life of its own.”

“ . . . will try to strategically place where those needs are,” said Harris.

Responding to recent board member reports of cleanliness issues — particularly at the high school — Harris said GCA Services Group, Cleveland, Ohio, has recently been under new management.

“Work orders were not being closed. Now they are closed at about 80 percent per week.”

GCA Services Group is the district’s outsourced custodial and maintenance company.

The school district contracted with GCA last May, eliminating 35 custodial positions with the goal of saving $430,000.

Many of the former custodial employees were offered positions with GCA.

Board members have voiced concerns — but have not found any solution for the continuing poor teacher attendance rate.

Harris confirmed that the daily absentee rate is between 6 percent and 10 percent in the district’s five school buildings, but said he has found no pattern of any individual, and has examined the absences two times.

“It needs some serious corrective action,” said Martino, questioning the number of repeated absences on Mondays, Friday, and at holidays.

“I think more action should be taken than, ‘oh, well,’” said Martino.

“We do have higher than average numbers out, but no pattern,” said Harris, adding that teacher absences can range from the obvious sick and vacation days to FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), jury duty, and bereavement.