Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Questions about Kuna school district spending

As the Kuna school district went out to the public in the past several weeks to discuss the district’s financial future, I started receiving calls and comments from readers asking about what they called questionable spending in the district.
I relayed the questions on to the school district, and the following is what was reported to me.
Lunch for the girls soccer team
The Kuna girls varsity soccer team was treated to lunch during the state soccer tournament, which was held in Middleton. The cost of the lunch was $265.
The lunch was paid for out of the Kuna High School vending machine account, which helps to pay for a variety of items including when teams go to a state level competition.
The expense was justified under the premise that given the locality of the state event, there were no costs for travel, lodging and meals associated with traveling to a more distant venue, which is often the case.
The amount budgeted for the account is $2,690.13. The current balance in the account is $2,551.23.
Sweatshirts given to the players were paid for by the United Dairymen of Idaho, not the school district.
Utility vehicle
Kuna High School purchased a new utility vehicle in October for $7,262.42.
It was purchased to replace a golf cart that was previously being used for security transportation that had reached its extended useful life and broke down. The cost to repair was beyond the value of the cart, according to Bryan Fletcher, the district’s business manager.
The new mule has more flexibility to be used for security purposes as well as other needs such as event set up, and possibly snow plowing, etc., according to Fletcher.
The seller is accepting payment over two years. The cost is being paid out of funds raised via the parking lot fee that Kuna High School charges for students who opt to drive to school.
Fletcher said that this was a budgeted item at Kuna High School with 50 percent paid for the item this year and the balance paid next year.
The 2011-12 estimated income for the parking lot fee account is $12,500. The starting balance was $0.00. Its current balance is $6,085.
Cell phones
There are 51 school district-funded cell phones. The amount of money spent on cell phones in 2010-11 was $29,310.09.
There are nine school district accounts that are charged for cell phone charges. Most of the accounts are used to pay for cell phones are also used to pay other expenses, according to Fletcher. For example, the account that pays for phone land lines also pays for cell phones, he said. Of the dedicated accounts for cell phones, they have a combined budget of $23,459. The balance is covered in these other accounts.
Cell phone charges are charged against: general fund; Title 6B Fund; State Migrant Fund; Professional Technical Fund; and the Child Nutrition Fund.
The list of school district employees who have a district-funded cell phone includes six technology employees, nine maintenance employees, seven principals, the two deans at the high school, the high school and middle school building administrators, the middle school activities director, the district superintendent and assistant superintendent, business manager, federal programs coordinator, assessment/data coordinator, projects manager, two nurses, a substitute nurse, two psychologists, five custodians, one transportation employee, one security employee, the high school work-based learning coordinator, three food service employees, special education employee and the regional migrant coordinator.
The five custodian phones and one maintenance phone are limited to press to talk communication and not accessible to external open lines.
The Kuna school district receives funding through a Federal program called ERate, which reimburses 37.07 percent of the district’s cell phones charges.
In addition, Fletcher said, the district uses cell phones in many places/locations in lieu of walkie-talkies.

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