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Cherokee BOE holds June meeting

The Cherokee Board of Education met at 7 p.m., Monday, June 7 for their regular meeting.

The meeting was called to order with Kory Littlefield, Desiree Gibson and Amber Wilhite.

The minutes from May 10 and June 2; general fund encumbrances and warrants; building fund encumbrances and warrants; child nutrition fund encumbrances and warrants; activity fund report; changing the name of activity account 844-benevolent fund, which has a zero balance, to wood shop, as donations have been received; and treasurer’s report.

Under general fund encumbrances, Superintendent Bryce Schanbacher reported that two of the rented portable buildings are being returned with one contract ending in June and the other lease continuing until the fall. There is nothing planned as of right now for the space where the administration building was, but it could be used as an outdoor classroom.

Schanbacher reported that the summer food program is going on and in July, Keystone will take over the food service program.

Amantha Sanborn reported that the school’s collection for gross production was up higher than it had been and hoping the next month is the same.

Next, two resignations were approved.

The first was Jeremy Hickman, junior high and high school principal. Hickman is taking a job with another school district and Schanbacher wished him the best of luck in his future. Hickman had been at the school since 2010.

The second was Steve Hickman, high school boys’ track coach. Hickman began his time at school in 1976 and won multiple state championships in track.

“We will miss him,” Schanbacher said.

Fundraisers for the high school cheer to sell T-shirts and for the football team to send out letters were approved.

The board next approved appointing Schanbacher as an agent to assure compliance for A.H.E.R.A., programs purchase agent, hearing officer for vocational programs, complaints and civil rights complaints, risk manager for O.S.H.A. programs, and the school representative and acting agent for the board in connection with applying for any federal, state and local funds such as E-Rate, Title 1, Title II, Title IV, Title V, Title VI, Title VII or any grants or other programs that would benefit the school.

The temporary appropriations were approved next.

The board then approved a resolution authorizing the district to transfer unobligated funds from Fund 31 – Building Bond Fund, to the general fund 11 for operating purposes in the amount of $200,000.

The funds in that account are being used to pay lease purchase and there has to be enough money to cover that lease purchase payment in there and there is $230,000 in excess. They are transferring only $200,000 to help with the general fund.

Next, the board approved a resolution approving and affirming a lease/purchase agreement and authorizing the execution of the same; designating lease transaction as a qualified tax-exempt obligation; authorizing employment of School District Counsel, Financial Advisor and Bond Counsel pertaining to financing; and authorizing school district officials to execute any and all necessary documents in connection with the aforementioned transactions.

This was approved at a December board meeting, but some of the wording needed to be corrected and this was correcting that wording.

At 7:20 p.m. the board convened into executive session to discuss personnel to include salaries and contracts for the next school year.

They returned to open session at 8:45 p.m. and after the statement of the minutes of executive session, the board approved hiring Keela Patterson as elementary principal, Lane Pruett as junior high and high school principal and Amy Eckhardt as elementary teacher.

Next the board approved the 2021-2022 membership of the district with Oklahoma Schools Assurance Group -Workman’s Comp Insurance in the amount of $18,196 and Oklahoma Schools Insurance Group – Liability/Building/Fleet/Property Insurance in the amount of $98,267.

The school saw a $31,000 increase in insurance cost due to a new appraisal that saw the value increase by $3.5 million. This was the first appraisal that the insurance company did since 2005.

The contract with Precision Testing Laboratories for the district’s asbestos maintenance services for $1,000 was approved. This is an annual contract.

The final item before the superintendent’s report was approving the 2021-2022 Return to Learn Plan.

The school is receiving $548,000 from the American Rescue Plan and there are nine items the school has to be in compliance with to receive the money. Currently they are sitting at eight of nine with the ninth being with the finalized return to learn plan. The final item is that the plan has to read that masks will be worn the universal and correct way.

The school policy will read that the school will follow any local, state or federal mandates requiring the wearing of masks.

This plan has up to six months to be revised, but this has to be on the school website by June 22.

Schanbacher gave his report:

• Summer projects are ongoing. The crew at the elementary is finishing up floors  and moving classroom furnishings around.

• The school met with AEC Services and did a walk-through of the junior high and high school building. There are older units on the north end and the school could use some federal funds to do some upgrades.

• The school will have two portable buildings removed. One is at the elementary and one is the administration building. Once the payments are done on both, it will save the school $3,100 plus the cost of utilities monthly.

• Summer activities are busy with FCCLA going to nationals, FFA officer retreat, basketball and football camps and summer league games going on.

• The school will host the USA Track and Field Meet on June 19.

• Students competed in the  101 Classic Bowl, Noah Leslie and Macy Goodwin, basketball; Bridget Wilhite, cheer; and Ruston James and Damein Lobato, football.

• Three football players and three cheerleaders will go to Miami for the 8-Man All Star Game.

• The school will host the Fourth of July evening festivities at the sports complex.

• The school still has a couple financial hurdles to get through. It is projected that the school will have a negative fund balance in the general fund at the end of the fiscal year on June 30, which the administration tried really hard to prevent. The first projected numbers were that the school was going to be in the negative $800,000 to $1 million, but the most recent number is $200,000 in the negative. ACB Bank will pick up the tab and the sinking fund will pay them back over three years. There is still a tax protest going on and the next budget will not include any money from the tax protest to help in case the school doesn’t win the protest.

• USDA announced that all students will get breakfast and lunch for free this next school year. Keystone will be taking over in July and more information will be available later.

• The school was able to hire back one teacher who was rifed.

After hearing no new business, the board adjourned at 9:07 p.m.

June 2

The Cherokee Board of Education met at noon, June 2 for a special called meeting.

The meeting was called to order with Littlefield, Shane Parker, Kurtis Goodwin and Gibson present. Wilhite was absent.

The first item of business was appointing Gibson as acting clerk in the absence of Wilhite.

Next, Andy Davis of Stephen L. Smith Corp presented the bond information to the board and opened the five bids that were submitted for the $610,000 taxable combined purpose building bonds of the school district.

The following bids were submitted:

• F & M Bank: zero premium, $10,370 net interest cost, 0.85 % average interest rate.

• ACB and Baker Group: $301.01 premium, $7,628.99 net interest cost, 0625327 % average interest rate.

• Cleo State Bank: $7,500 premium, $10,800 net interest cost, 0.8852 % average interest rate.

• BOK Financial Securities: $341.60 premium, $6,978.40 net interest cost, .572% average interest rate.

• The Exchange Bank of Skiatook, zero premium, $6,710 net interest cost, 0.55% average interest rate.

The board awarded the sale of the bond to Exchange Bank of Skiatook.

Next the board approved approve a resolution providing for the issuance of taxable combined purpose building bonds in the sum of $610,000 by this School District , authorized at an election called and held for such purpose; prescribing form of bonds providing for registration thereof; providing for levy of an annual tax for the payment of principal and interest on the same; and fixing other details of issue.

The meeting adjourned at 12:17 p.m.

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