The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 18, 2012

Carthage School Board officers re-elected

By Susan Redden
Globe Staff Writer

CARTHAGE, Mo. — After voters in the Carthage School District two weeks ago re-elected incumbent board members, the board on Monday returned incumbent officers to their leadership posts on the panel.

Mark Westhoff was elected to a second term as board president during the meeting at Columbian Elementary School.

Lee Elliff Pound was elected to a second term as board vice president, Michael Goolsby as secretary and Justin Baucom as treasurer. The votes, all unanimous, came after Pound and Goolsby, who were re-elected in the April 3 balloting, were sworn into office.

Superintendent Blaine Henningsen said planning is under way on a district budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, despite uncertainty about the level of funding from the state.

He said Missouri’s school foundation formula is underfunded by about $300 million in the budget proposed by Gov. Jay Nixon. He said plans have been proposed to address the underfunding, but the state budget steps are not expected to be complete until May 4.

Currently, about $18 million — or 46 percent of the district’s total revenue estimated at $39 million — comes from the state.

Federal funds that were used to balance the state budget over the past two years are no longer available, Henningsen said, while casino revenues that go to the classroom trust fund are coming in below expectations, and the state continues to lose potential sales tax revenue to Internet sales.

He said state revenues are depleted by tax credits. He said Missouri ranks first in the nation in the amount of historic preservation tax credits issued, and second in low-income housing tax credits. The value of tax credits issued last year was $654 million, he said.

Henningsen said that in making plans for next year’s budget, officials will assume no major changes in federal funding, “flat” funding from the state, and no major increase or decrease in local revenue. He said the district expects to hire more teachers as enrollment continues to grow, and it plans to propose an increase in teachers’ salaries.

“We’ve held the line on teachers’ salaries for several years, and we need to stay competitive,” he said.

He said Missouri also is missing out on revenue from cigarette taxes, because the state’s tax of 17 cents per pack is the lowest in the nation. By comparison, he said, Kansas taxes at a rate of 79 cents per pack, Oklahoma at $1.03 and Arkansas at $1.15.

In other business, the board recognized students who won recent state awards, including the Carthage Middle School Odyssey of the Mind team and members of the Carthage Junior High student council who represented the district at state conventions. Carthage was named the second vice president school for the Missouri Association of Student Councils.

100 percent

Board members were told that the district’s fleet of school buses received a 100 percent rating in recent safety inspections by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.