C-P board addresses financial matters

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Como-Pickton's school board addressed several financial topics Monday during their regular February board meeting.

Board members opted not to pay TrackMasters a $117,000 bill for track repairs until Athletic Director Devin Gabbard gives the OK that all repairs have been made and TrackMasters' insurance company approves the repairs to 70 cars damaged by "overspray."

Board member Penny Spearman questioned why the final bill for the track was $6,900 more than the original amount outlined in the contract between TrackMasters and the district, and if there was any way to know in advance how much extra those additional repairs would cost.

Gabbard and other board members explained that the contract did specify that the rate quoted could change depending on the condition of the track once the surface was stripped.

"You can't put new on broken material. You don't know what you're going to get until you get down to it and pull it off," said board member Brad Carr.

There were three areas that required repairs. Had only the surface repairs outlined in the contract been made over the damaged area, the track would require more repairs in four years as opposed to 12, Gabbard noted.

Another issue was raised regarding the 70 cars damaged by the "overspray" when winds blew material over plastic lining on a fence around the track, where over the course of three days the track was being sprayed. A company contracted through TrackMasters' insurance agency is supposed to visit the school next week and bring a special chemical  to clean up the cars.

The district also has a $1,500 claim with their insurance company following a break-in during an out-of-town trip. A coach had taken his laptop computer on the trip, which was left in the school's Chevrolet Suburban on a school trip. The SUV's door sustained $500 damage and the $1,200 laptop was stolen. The insurance deductible is $1,000.

Trustees questioned the cost of a new sewer pump. When one of the district's two pumps went out, repairs were required. The district opted to purchase a new pump station for $6,500, which with labor and shipping totaled $7,383. They could have had it rebuilt for $4,500, but the warranty would have only been good for 30 days, whereas the new system is covered for five years.

Board member Abbie Wright questioned a notation in bills involving Wal-Mart. Apparently, each of the district's 140 employees were given 15 gift certificates valued at $10 each, for a total cost of $21,000. It was explained that some employees opted not to use those gift cards, and the amount was reimbursed to the school account.

Acting Superintendent Sandra Billodeau recommended that the board not order a new large bus, even though the district had budgeted $89,000 to replace one bus this year. The board approved a budge amendment for no new bus at this time.

The board was also given an updateregarding weighted daily average attendance and a Chapter 41 contract, often referred to as the Robin Hood plan. Essentially, Como-Pickton's maximum funding allowance from the state and a "wealthy" school district is $2 million. The district could receive a combined $3.1 million from the two sources, and if so would have to pay back the $1.1 million overpayment by August. If the funds are put in an interest-bearing account, the interest should help with cash flow issues, but not enough to make up the overpayment.

Lydia Walden, food services and special education director for Como-Pickton CISD, reported that of the $6,000 owed in lunch charges last month, the district has collected all of it except $741.45. Walden last month enforced a new rule allowing only three charges per student. After three lunch charges per student, the child then can receive a sack lunch from the kitchen for three days. After that, it is the parent's responsibility to ensure the child has a lunch each day.

Walden said she is also consulting with Texas Association of School Boards to see if the district legally can withhold certain privileges or make certain provisions for students will large overdue balances.

She said the district also needs to consider how it will fund its free breakfast program for all students should the board opt to continue offering that free service next year, or if it is worth the cost.

Walden noted a difficulty which arose with a contractor, Aramark, over laundry service. The district in December installed a washer and dryer in the cafeteria to wash to do their own washing. Aramark has a three year contract with the district for the cleaning service. The manager/supervisor after speaking with Walden, has "agreed to work with us" to negotiate a new contract.

The district is also going back to trays and silverware rather than styrofoam and disposable items to save money.

Walden also recommended using a meal tracker system in the cafeteria which would enable parents to access their children's individual account online to check their cafeteria balances.

The district also collected a "whole lot" of taxes to the tune of $252,284 the business manager noted. That leaves only $4,088 on the delinquent tax rolls.

C-P benefited from a $108,000 payment from Texas State Billing Services for Medicaid reimbursement for special services fees.

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