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September 19, 2019

8/23/2019 11:02:00 AM
Unit 2 investments starting to show good returns
Robinson Unit 2 school board members received good news about district investments just in time for them to take the next step on a new budget.

"We just ended the best year we've ever had on your behalf," Mike Vezetti of Vezetti Capital Management told the board Monday. "We actually earned you some real money this year."

Vezetti has managed Unit 2 investments for 19 years. This past year's return was 113 percent higher than on 2017-18 investments. It was the fifth year in a row investment revenue increased, Vezetti said.

He credited efforts by the district for the success. "You as a district have done an excellent job building up your fund balances," he explained.

Vezetti added he anticipates the new fiscal year will also see a good return, despite the recent drops in the prime interest rate.

Also, during their meeting, board members approved posting the tentative 2019-20 budget for 30 days. It will be subject to a public hearing prior to the next board meeting, which will be bumped back one week to Monday, Sept. 23.

Based on tentative figures, all the major operational funds are expected to end this fiscal year in the black Superintendent Josh Quick said.

The budget should be balanced, with the Education Fund taking in an anticipated $12.5 million while paying out $12.35 million.

Quick pointed out the budget reflects a change in how the federal government distributes some of its financial aid.

More than $4 million in money the federal government previously paid directly to educational co-operatives in which Unit 2 participates will now be sent to Robinson. Unit 2 will be required to forward the money on to the co-ops.

Because of the change, Quick explained, it appears the district is receiving $4 million in new federal dollars. That is not the case.

In another financial matter, representatives of the Robinson High School Booster Club spoke to the board about a fundraising plan.

Courtney Ferris and Kasey Connelly said the group is looking into setting up a weekly raffle that could be used to raise money for sports. They wanted to learn if the board would support the plan.

Before such a raffle can be set up, however, the club will need permission from the City of Robinson. City Attorney Frank Weber is working on an ordinance that will allow the city to grant permission.

If approved, the raffle would be similar to one in place in Newton. It now has a $336,000 jackpot, more than $163,000 of which will go to the school district.

Board members found the prospects enticing, but three - Dennis Inboden, Chad Brown and President Bill Sandiford - said they would not support the plan.

While all three expressed appreciation for the Boosters and all the group has done, they did not favor the idea of an on-going raffle. Inboden said he had moral issues with promoting gambling even if it might benefit school sports.

Also Monday, the board accepted the lowest of four bids for renovations to the front entrance of RHS. The successful bid of $165,000 was submitted by Wohltman Construction, Effingham.

The renovations will mean a visitor to RHS will have to make face-to-face contact with a school official before entering the building proper. Recommended by the Unit 2 Safety Committee, it is a step many schools are taking to safeguard students and staff.

In personnel matters, the board hired Melissa Carter as a special education paraprofessional at Lincoln Elementary School and Deacon Faulkner as an RHS cross country coach. Flex bus driver Ken Martin was re-assigned to a regular route and Washington Elementary School lunchroom supervisor Mary Ann White was moved to LES.

Resignations were accepted from LES special education paraprofessional Megan Herder, RHS assistant softball coach Clint Corder, WES assistant cook Amelita Steward and 3-5 Parent and Family Coordinator Libby Fearday.

The retirements of RHS cooks' helper Cynthia Mendenhall and WES head cook Sheila Wakefield were accepted.

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