Archives for February 2010

Patron Meeting on Iola School Budget Set

While there have been a number of officially-sanctioned talks about school finance and what impact the state budget will have on local schools, now a couple of parents are organizing a session that’s not under the official umbrella. That certainly doesn’t mean school officials won’t use the ideas, though. Joel and Lisa Wicoff ask patrons who haven’t been able to be at the district’s evening meetings to chime in with ideas on how to cut costs for the 2010-11 school year. They have reserved a room at Pizza Hut for public discussion starting at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. You’ll have to pay for your lunch, but Wicoff asks that you let her know you’re coming so she can tell Pizza Hut how many to expect. Her number is 365-6232.

Zonig Issue Threatens to Delay Library Work

The Iola PUblic Library and a parking lot used by the Bowlus are too close together, and that may affect plans to renovate the library. It’s a zoning violation, because the zoning classificaiton for that block requires a five-foot setback, which would be eliminated by the vestibule planned for the west end of the library. So, officials have to decide whether to rezone, which would take at least two months, or whetehr to go one of a couple of other routes. Those choices include the Bowlus deeding the parking lot to the city or allowing an easement so the setback can be satisified technically. While the easment may be preferred by some, others are concerned it doesn’t meet the letter of the law, either, and if it were non-public entities asking for approval, they’d likely be turned down.

Among Budget Gloom, A Sprig of Good News

Amidst all the talk of school finance and the hundreds of thousands of dollars that will likely need to be cut from the Iola USD 257 budget next year, board members learned some good news last night. Dr. Craig Neuenswander explained this morning about a program that has been tried elsewhere in southeast Kansas that is in the works for Iola:

Details of the program are still being worked out.

Iolan Dies in Rollover Crash

A 25-year old Iola woman is dead following a car crash last night, and the driver faces possible charges. The Allen County Sheriff’s Department says Nicole Sigg was a passenger in a car driven by Ramsey Gott that crashed seven miles northwest of Iola last night. Gott crashed, apparently speeding through a curve, and overturned. Jessica Rogers and Steven Warden, who were also passengers in the vehicle, were thrown out as the car rolled. It came to rest on its wheels and Gott sped off, leaving them behind. He called 9-1-1, though, and met deputies and EMS at Texas Road and old U-S 169. Sigg was airlifted to KU Medical Center where she later died. Gott was taken to Allen County Hospital and later to a Wichita hospital with possible neck injury. Rogers and Watt were also taken to ACH; they were treated and released. Gott faces a possible charge of 2nd degree reckless murder, according to the incident report.

Iola Symphony to Perform Sunday

The Iola Area Symphony Orchestra will perform Sunday at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center. The theme of this performance is “Scandinavian Smorgasbord.” The performance begins at 3pm and includes slections from “Mamma Mia!,” a jukebox musical based on the songs of ABBA, a Swedish pop group, will close out the first half of the program. The orchestra features musicians from Iola, Neodesha, Fort Scott, Overland Park, Chanute, Pleasanton, Moran, Buffalo, Pittsburg and Uniontown. Tickets will be sold at the door for $3 for adults. Students and children will be admitted free of charge.

School Finance: USD 257 May Have to Cut 1/12 of Its Budget

The size of the budget hole being contemplated by USD 257 approaches one million dollars. Dr. Craig Neuenswander says that number, 902-thousand dollars to be exact, is accurate only if the Legislature actually does what it appears right now it plans to with school finance. The district stands to lose over 267-thousand dollars due to declining enrollment, nearly half a million dollars in lost base state aid, 66-thousand dollars and change from the effect of the base state aid change on the local option budget, and it looks like they’ll have to spend about 77-thousand dollars more next year for insurance, fuel and utilities. The size of the money hole means the district will have to cut nearly 1 of every 12 dollars it currently spends to balance next year’s budget.

Review Asked of 9-1-1 Fund

They’re making clear they don’t believe anything wrong has been done, but Allen County Commissioners are asking to review the financial transactions undertaken in the past several months as 9-1-1 was transferred from the city of Iola to the county. City Administrator Judy Brigham says the depletion of the 9-1-1 fund from $75-thousand in November to less than $1-thousand this week is nothing more than the timing of bills paid from the fund. They often are delayed in arriving for up to a month after work is done, and by the time the paperwork is processed and a check clears the bank, another month has passed — and that time often crosses the end of a calendar month. Brigham will share the detailed records with the commission soon.

Humboldt School Cuts: $250,000 May Be Needed

Humboldt school board members have been told they need to find $150-thousand dollars in cuts for next year’s budget this spring another $100-thousand dollars before school starts. School officials expect per-pupil state aid will not increase above this year’s $4,012 level. They worry it could drop another $300 per student. The bottom line at the moment: guard state-mandated contingency money like a hawk and don’t spend it to level out this year’s budget, because it’s likely to be needed next year.

School Finance Situation: Painful

So just how bad is the school finance situation? Iola Superintendent Dr. Craig Neuenswander and school board members will talk about just that during a special meeting tonight:

The special meeting starts at 6:00 in the High School Library.

ACC Adds Online Dean

Allen Community College will add a Dean of Online instruction. As many colleges and universities have noticed, online learning is taking off, and it brings a lot of students — and their money — to a school without the cost burdens of additional classrooms — a win-win, as far as many are concerned. More than half of the college’s students were enrolled in at least one online course this year, while more than 25 percent take online courses only. An administrative shuffle approved last week to make room for the position moves the college’s dean of instruction to being the dean of the Iola campus, while the college’s dean of outreach instruction, Bob Reavis, will become the dean of the Burlingame campus. All this starts July 1st.