Bermudian Springs welcomes 3 new board members

By Imari Scarbrough

The Bermudian Springs school board welcomed three new members during its reorganization meeting on Monday evening.

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The board held a caucus meeting closely followed by a regular voting meeting.

During the caucus meeting, superintendent Shane Hotchkiss explained the agenda items in detail, giving the board time to preview the topics and ask for clarification if necessary. The board also reviewed the script to be used for the reorganization meeting. Those items were voted on during the regular meeting, when the new and incumbent board members were sworn into office.

Brian Davis and Chad Mowery (region one) and Neil Tate (region two) joined as new members.

Returning board members Ruth Griffie (region two) and Daniel Chubb (region three) were also sworn in.

Chubb was elected as the board president. Travis Mathna was elected vice president while Jennifer Goldhahn won the vote for board secretary. Mary Kemper was voted in as the assistant secretary.

All were the sole nominees for their positions.

A board treasurer will be elected in May.

The board also approved a handful of personnel changes, approving a student custodian and giving a green light to a teacher mentor, who will receive a $400 stipend.

Three middle school Girls on the Run coaches and a class of 2025 advisor were also approved with stipends. The board retroactively approved four positions related to the middle school musical held this fall as Hotchkiss noted approval had previously been overlooked.

Two volunteer assistant coaches, one for wrestling and one for track, and one individual serving as athletic game help were also approved.

A memorandum of understanding for a long-term substitute position for a middle school seventh-grade math teacher was unanimously approved in lieu of hiring for the position.

Filling the position with a long-term sub will allow the district to assess whether the job will be necessary after the 2023-24 school year ends. The MOU between the district and the teaching association will allow the district to follow the terms of the collective bargaining agreement while maintaining flexibility.

Finance

During the caucus meeting financial reports, business manager Justin Peart reported that the cafeteria fund began November with a negative balance of over $80,000. While the fund did bring in over $126,000 in revenue that month, about $76,000 immediately went to covering November’s payroll. With November being a three-paycheck month, the payroll took even more of a toll on the fund, Peart said. After covering expenses including payroll, the fund was depleted with a balance of -$87,852.07.

While the negative balance could seem alarming, Peart pointed to incoming federal and state reimbursements totaling about $50,000, as well as federal supply chain assistance of $45,133.53, that will help balance the books. With those included in the figures, the fund totals $7,764.77.

“That’s great news, because you remember, the prior two months, we had to borrow money from the general fund,” Peart said, adding that the district did not need to transfer money from the general fund in November.

The cafeteria fund will be further supported by the USDA Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) the board approved in November. The CEP allows students to be “reimbursed using a formula based on the percentage of students categorically eligible for free meals based on their participation in other specific means-tested programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF),” according to the program website.

CEP is designed to assist low-income districts. It will begin in Bermudian Springs in early January.

Other business

The 2024 meeting schedule was approved and will remain on the same schedule as previously, with regular meetings normally landing on the second Tuesdays of each month.

The next caucus meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 8.

A regular meeting will follow the next day at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9.

Meetings are held in the administration building board room and are live-streamed on the district’s YouTube channel. Livestreamed meetings are automatically saved by YouTube and remain available on the channel for later viewing.

Featured image caption: (l to r) Mowery, Tate, Davis.

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Imari Scarbrough is a freelance journalist. She was a staff newspaper reporter for five years before becoming a freelancer in 2017. She has written on crime, environmental issues, severe weather events, local and regional government and more.

You can visit her website at ImariJournal.com.

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