The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 25, 2013

Joplin School Board advances strategic plan, budget

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Joplin Board of Education on Tuesday night adopted the outline for a strategic plan that will guide the district through the next five years.

The plan consists of five broad objectives, commonly referred to by the district as “standards of excellence,” that seek to improve student achievement, graduate college- and career-ready students, become the local employer and school district of choice, and ensure financial stability.

The plan, which also includes a number of specific and measurable goals under each objective, has been developed over the past year from input from district employees and residents as well as the board.

Angie Besendorfer, assistant superintendent, said the district staff will now work to develop strategies and plans of action to ensure that the goals will be met, as well as a model for accountability.

The plan was first developed five years ago, and officials have said it needed to be updated.

The board also adopted a budget for fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1, that projects total expenditures of $244.3 million and total revenues of $141.5 million.

Paul Barr, the district’s chief financial officer, said part of the reason for the deficit is the current construction of four buildings that will hold students from seven schools that were either damaged or destroyed in the 2011 tornado. Three of those schools — two elementary and one middle school — are set to open in December; the high school, which includes Franklin Technology Center, is to open in August 2014.

“Our expenditures are huge because we’re right in the middle of our building projects,” Barr said.

Capital project costs for the rebuilding of permanent schools are estimated to total $152.7 million during the fiscal year. The total capital outlay budget is projected to be $160.2 million, representing nearly two-thirds of the district’s expenditures for the year.

The rebuilding costs are to be paid in part by a $62 million voter-approved bond issue. Some expenses are expected to be reimbursed by state and federal agencies or covered by insurance proceeds.

Barr said the aftermath of the tornado continues to have an effect on overall revenues. Although total assessed valuation was not available at the time the budget was prepared, the district has budgeted for a $1.1 million reduction in property taxes compared with pre-tornado levels, he said.

Payments to the school district from the city as part of its agreement in creating a tax increment financing district, in which future increases in property taxes within the TIF zone will go toward redevelopment projects instead of to the school district, are scheduled to begin in 2015, Barr said.

The budget includes salary increases for employees of 1.3 percent, totaling about $584,000, with no changes to health insurance premiums or retirement contributions.

Other business

THE JOPLIN SCHOOL BOARD on Tuesday approved about $4.34 million in bid packages for the construction of safe rooms at Stapleton Elementary School and Junge Field; an $82,000 proposal for the installation of cameras on school buses; and nearly $300,000 for iPads for eighth-graders to fulfill the district’s one-to-one technology initiative at that grade level.

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