Carthage school officials were pleased with the level of agreement between the public and the school staff when it came to ranking the importance of school programs and activities, Superintendent Blaine Henningsen said.

The school district posted a survey on its Web site asking residents to set priorities on school offerings because state funding cuts are expected to force schools to reduce their spending. The survey attracted more than 1,000 responses — 647 from the public and 401 from district employees — said Henningsen, who reviewed the survey results for the Carthage School Board on Monday.

“The staff and public agreed on the major categories, like measures to maintain instruction and hold down class sizes,” he said.

The information will be used in planning next year’s budget, though officials still are waiting for state lawmakers to set funding levels.

State funding for the district was cut by $184,000 last October, then lawmakers last week authorized an additional 2 percent cut in education funding, which translates to $324,000, Henningsen said.

“That’s over a half-million dollars so far,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough year, requiring tough decisions. This year is going to be bad. Next year is going to be even worse.”

The public and the district staff were in lock step in ranking the major funding categories, survey results showed, with personnel and instructional programs ranked highest. Other major expenditures, in order of importance, were employee benefits, instructional programs not related to personnel, student activities, buildings and grounds, and other cost items, such as staff meetings, salaries and Internet service.

Among instructional programs, math and science were ranked highest in importance by the staff and the public. Employees and the public both ranked FFA and high-school sports as among the most important student activities. Among other cost items, employees ranked staff salaries as most important and Internet access as second. The public named student transportation as most important and staff salaries as second.

Monday’s meeting was a reorganization session in the wake of the April 6 election, in which voters re-elected Mark Westhoff and voted in Justin Baucom as a new board member. The board honored member Debbie Baugh, who lost a re-election bid and stepped down after serving nine years on the board.

Board members re-elected Jeff Jones as board president, Westhoff as vice president, Lee Pound as secretary and Mike Goolsby as treasurer. All the votes were unanimous.

In other business, the board:

n Heard a report on district technology from Cindy Rogers, program director.

n Heard an update on construction of the new Carthage Vocational Technical School that included a prediction from the contractor that the building would be done by the end of June.

n Awarded contracts for summer construction projects to Nabholz Construction, $30,800, for storm drainage improvements at Pleasant Valley Elementary School; Nabholz Construction, $139,990, for driveway improvements at Carthage Middle School; Joplin Roofing, $78,900, to reroof Carthage Middle School; and Blevins Asphalt Construction, $16,000, for asphalt work at Pleasant Valley Elementary.

Foreign exchange

The Carthage School Board approved a measure expanding the number of organizations from which foreign exchange students will be admitted without a tuition charge.


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