September 26, 2018 Update from the Superintendent
DCR1 Focuses on New Technical and Agriculture Center
This article is the final part of a six part series that will is being published as we begin the 2018-2019 school year. The focus of these articles will be our fiscal, infrastructure, and facility accomplishments, as well as our current status and future challenges. The six articles include: (part 1) f ocusing on our financial history over the past three years and the concept of financial rightsizing; Part 2 (changes in Career and Technical Education); Part 3 (the condition of our Technical Center and Agriculture facilities); Part 4 (the educational benefit of moving our Technical Center to Buffalo); Part 5 (educational facility funding and comparisons to other districts in our former and current conferences); Part 6 (our financial challenges and our district’s story).
Over the past three years we have spent over $1.2 million on technology infrastructure improvements. This process began with updating our servers and wiring district wide in 2015-2016. This past school year we approved the lease of 1750 devices district wide so each student grades 2-12 will have their own device to use, and students in kindergarten and first grade will have a set of devices for every other classroom that will be shared. This technology upgrade will allow our students to access our online learning management system (Canvas) where the redesigned curriculum is housed. Improvements such as these have been shown to even further improve student achievement.
Since the 2015-2016 school year we have significantly increased staff member pay across all job descriptions. These raises brought our district to a point where we are consistent with, or surpassing, the compensation of area and conference school districts. These increases have allowed us to retain quality staff members who were leaving the district for pay reasons, and they have allowed us to attract higher quality applicants for positions when they are open.
Finally, we have improved our facilities over the past three years. We refaced the exterior of Buffalo High School and relocated our maintenance department, transportation department, special services department, and central office to a new district office on Ash Street. Moving these departments has allowed us to add an alternative school to the district in the old Central Office building; the movement of the transportation department will allow us to build a regulation track this year on the current site. This summer, the interior of Mallory Elementary was updated, we converted a large classroom at the Middle School into two classrooms, and we are continuing to make the softball field at the Middle School playable.
All the technology improvements, wage increases, and facility improvements have been completed within our existing budget. These improvements were made possible with budget cuts and a slight increase in our revenue. If we were to exclude the cost of the new track from the budget this year, our revenues would be just slightly higher than our expenditures. This indicates we are financially within our means; however, it does not leave room for additional major facility projects. We are currently funding student programs, staff member pay, and facility maintenance at an appropriate level. Funding for these areas is at a level we will be able to maintain, however we have maximized our potential with our current finances.
The district cannot undertake any further major facility projects without the financial support of our voters. A new Dallas County Technical Center/Agriculture facility on the High School campus is one project that must happen in order to continue to have these important programs in our district. This project is a need not a choice. Our current Technical Center and Agriculture facilities are in bad condition due to their age. The current buildings in Louisburg and our Agriculture facilities will not last more than 5 more years without one or more major facility issues forcing closure of these facilities. Our Career and Technical and Agriculture programs are far too important to us and our community to allow their forced closure.
The best educational option for our students in these programs, and for students who have a desire to take these programs, is to consolidate these facilities into a new two story building to the North of our new track and West of the High School. The movement of our transportation facility and maintenance building will afford us the space necessary to build this facility.
Over the last couple months I have written several articles in an attempt to make the community aware of our current progress and our future needs. The district has not made a decision to run a ballot issue in April of 2019. We have contracted with a survey company to conduct a voter support survey in October of 2018. This survey will provide us valid and reliable data to make a decision if a ballot issue is feasible for our district. Whether we decide to run a bond or a levy issue, either one will have a sunset. The ballot language will define the purpose of the bond or levy is to build a new Agriculture/Technical Center and the tax to build the project will sunset when the debt is repaid.
Support our local schools, we can’t afford not to!
Believe in Buffalo!
Tim Ryan, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Dallas County R-I School District