· Board Election Filings – to date we have not had anyone file as candidates for the board of education. Candidate filing deadline is January 16th at 5:00 PM. There are two seats available on the board.
· Cass County Kids First – legislative breakfast will be hosted by the Belton School District on February 9th. Formal invitations will be coming out soon. Let me know if you would like to attend and I can get your spot reserved.
· Facilities Update – HVAC unit that was giving us trouble, has thrown codes again and went down. We were able to shut down that compressor and reset the codes to allow the unit to operate on the other compressor. A service call has been made to come down and check out the bad compressor and likely will have to replace a compressor. Speaking of compressors, the compressor in the kitchen walk-in freezer shot craps. This happened Wednesday (1/3) and were able to get someone in to replace it very quickly and as a result we shouldn’t experience any food loss. Flooding Update from December 28th– the mitigation crew was back in on January 2nd and 3rd to evaluate. At this point it would appear that we were able to get on this quickly enough that the carpet will not need to be replaced and the drywall was not affected enough to have to cut out and replace any of it. At this point after speaking with mitigation and insurance company – we are at a point to put the cove base back along the floor and clean the affected carpet area. Cost for the scope of the work from the mitigation company was $4,096. The claim has been filed with our insurance company. Once we submit proof of payment we will receive reimbursement from the insurance company minus our $1,000 deductible.
· State Board of Education – Governor Eric Greitens withdrew then reappointed five members of the State Board of Education who voted last month to fire Dr. Margie Vandeven as commissioner of education. The reappointments were made after the Missouri Senate convened for its 2018 session. The move by the Governor is an apparent attempt to buy time since the Senate now has until the end of the session in May to confirm the appointments. However, the five appointees now cannot serve as voting members of the State Board until they are confirmed by the Senate. When the five were interim appointments (prior to the governor reappointing them) and before the legislative session began, they were able to serve on the State Board of Education and the Senate would have had only 30 days to confirm them after the opening of the session. Despite this political ploy, it remains critical that you contact your state senator and urge him/her to oppose the confirmations of all five of Governor Greitens’ appointees. It has become clear that Governor Greitens improperly orchestrated the firing of Dr. Vandeven with the aim of replacing her with his own candidate who is a strong supporter of charter schools, effectively making the position of commissioner of education a political appointee of the Governor. The important issue at stake here is the constitutional independence of the State Board of Education so it can make decisions based on what is best for Missouri’s public school students, not based on a partisan political agenda. Please communicate this message to your state senator and urge him/her to vote against the confirmation of all of Governor Greitens’ appointees to the State Board of Education and send a message that the Governor should stop playing politics with the students in Missouri’s public schools.
· Legislative Session Underway – Speaker Richardson gave his opening day remarks. In those remarks, Speaker Richardson identified his priorities for the House this session. Those priorities were as follows: 1) ethics reform; 2) economic development; 3) education reform; and 4) deregulation of business. With regard to education reform, Speaker Richardson stated, “We have work to do so that we can remember this session as one which led to greater freedom for young Missourians seeking the education that will serve them best, that we make this state a place where every child has the opportunity to build a great life for themselves, no matter where they were born or what their parents did for a living.” Speaker Richardson did not elaborate any further regarding his comment; however, one might imagine that his comment refers to the expansion of charter schools, expanding course offerings through virtual education and making voucher tax credits available to students.
· State Budget Updates – last year the legislature and Governor touted full funding of the foundation formula. To maintain full funding for the upcoming fiscal year, an additional $98 million will have to be added to the formula. It is also important to note that the school transportation categorical is under funded by approximately $200 million. This spending requirement is coupled with a dire budget situation that has been exacerbated by the recently passed federal tax cut. Fiscal year 2018-19 will be the first full year in which the SB 509 tax cuts will be phased in. The reduction of .1% in the state income tax will remove approximately $80 million in available general revenue. Additionally, because Missouri’s tax code is so closely aligned to the federal tax code, the recent passage of the federal tax cut, and specifically the changes to the standard deduction, will reduce state revenues. Estimates of the budget hit range wildly from a reduction of $80 million to as high as $1 billion. How budget leaders determine the fiscal impact will be an early development to watch in the 2018 session.