ESCAMBIA COUNTY, FLORIDA
MINUTES, APRIL 21, 2003
The School Board of Escambia County, Florida, convened in Special Meeting at 9:00 a.m., in Room 160, at the J.E. Hall Educational Services Center, 30 East Texar Drive, Pensacola, Florida, with the following present:
Chair: Ms. Linda Finkelstein
Vice Chair: Mrs. Cary Stidham
Board Members: Mrs. Carissa Bergosh (was not present)
Mr. Ronnie L. Clark (was not present)
Dr. John DeWitt
School Board Attorney: Mr. Francisco M. Negron, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools: Mr. Jim Paul
I. CALL TO ORDER/ADOPTION OF AGENDA
Ms. Finkelstein called the Special Meeting to order at 9:05 a.m. On motion made by Mrs. Stidham, seconded by Dr. DeWitt, adoption of the agenda was approved 3 to 0, with Mrs. Bergosh and Mr. Clark absent for vote.
STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS
III. BUDGET PROCESS
(Supplementary Minute Book, Exhibit A)
Budget Information Survey
(NOTE: This issue was previously addressed at the April 17, 2003 Special Meeting.) Mrs. Barbara Linker, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Business Affairs, provided information to the Board, that had been received thus far, in response to a budget information survey, sent to various school districts. She stated that the survey included a request for information regarding budget practices, the number of class periods taught by high school teachers and the number of credits required for graduation. She noted that the responses received thus far seemed to indicate a mixed-bag with regard to budget practices (i.e., site-based budgeting, zero-based budgeting, etc.).
Insurance Consultant Recommendations
Upon inquiry by Mrs. Stidham, Dr. Doug Garber, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resource Services, stated that a proposal from Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc., to provide consulting services for the Districts medical and prescription drug plan would be presented at the April 29, 2003 Special Meeting. He noted that at the conclusion of the fiscal year, a Request for Proposal (RFP) would be issued for a new consulting firm.
Mrs. Stidham had received an email message from an individual who had attended several Insurance Committee meetings and had made some suggestions on how to possibly improve that process. Dr. Doug Garber, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resource Services, stated that the individual was welcome to present those suggestions to the Insurance Committee. Mrs. Stidham noted that one of the suggestions was a reorganization of the Insurance Committee to include members of the healthcare and insurance industries, who could give suggestions and knowledgeable insight, on the viability or limitations of options open to the District. Dr. Garber advised that the Insurance Committee was already comprised of representatives from three local insurance companies. Upon inquiry by Ms. Finkelstein, the Superintendent stated that he would be open to the possibility of reconfiguring the insurance committee to include additional people from the health care industry and local hospitals. He noted that he had done something similar a couple of years ago by including insurance representatives to the Committee. At the request of Dr. DeWitt, Dr. Garber stated that he would provide the Board with a listing of the regularly scheduled Insurance Committee meetings and a listing of committee members.
(NOTE: This information was requested at the April 17, 2003 Special Meeting.) Dr. Doug Garber, Director of Human Resource Services, reviewed information provided to the Board regarding different scenarios (i.e., increase in Board contribution, increase in employee/retiree premiums, plan design changes) for dealing with next years projections. At the request of the Superintendent, Dr. Garber stated that he would arrange for a representative of United Health Care (UHC) to make a presentation at the April 29, 2003 Special Meeting regarding healthcare benefit management services.
Operational Audit Findings (Auditor General)
Discussion was held regarding the following findings from the Auditor Generals Operational Audit of the District:
Finding No. 15 - Annual Leave: The District allowed certain 10-month and 11-month employees to earn approximately $1.4 million in annual leave during the 2001-02 fiscal year, contrary to the provisions of Florida Statutes.
Dr. Doug Garber, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resource Services, provided the Board with copy of the letter sent to certain employees, notifying them that the District would no longer provide annual leave to ten (10) and eleven (11) month employees (in compliance with Florida Statutes). Dr. DeWitt believed that it might be necessary to provide more information to employees with regard to this issue, as many employees did not seem to understand that this was not a decision made by the Board, but rather a requirement of Florida Statutes.
Finding No. 19 - Exclusive Beverage Rights Contracts: Many of the Districts schools have separately entered into multi-year exclusive beverage rights contracts with a beverage company in exchange for financial and other support from the beverage company. These contracts allow the beverage company to sell non-carbonated beverages at the schools contrary to current Board policy. In addition, these contracts were separately negotiated at the school level. The District may be able to realize increased financial benefits by competitively bidding exclusive rights contracts at the District level to take advantage of the pooled purchasing power of the schools as a whole.
Mrs. Barbara Linker, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Business Affairs, stated that the District would evaluate the feasibility of formally bidding exclusive vending contracts. She noted information would be solicited from other districts, as well as school principals as part of the evaluation process.
Finding No. 11 Construction in Progress: District subsidiary records for construction in progress were not timely updated when capital projects were completed.
Mrs. Barbara Linker, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Business Affairs, stated that the District would implement new procedures to assure that subsidiary records for construction in progress would be timely updated when capital projects are completed.
Finding No. 6 Risk Management Receivables: The District had not established control procedures that provide for effectively monitoring, recording, and adjusting receivable balances relating to the Districts risk management program.
Mrs. Barbara Linker, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Business Affairs, stated that the District would monitor, record and adjust Risk Management Receivables, and would ensure that the District receives all reimbursement that it is due.
Finding No. 12 Energy Savings Contract: The District did not independently verify the representations of its energy conservation contractor to determine whether guaranteed energy savings were actually being achieved. Also, the District had not established effective procedures to ensure that it performed the necessary steps to receive all energy savings opportunities to which it was entitled.
Mr. Ted Kirchharr, Assistant Superintendent for Operations, explained that as a part of the energy performance contracting effort, the District had adopted a measurement and verification plan that incorporated the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol, which was used to calculate the performance of the equipment installed by the contractor. He stated that the District would explore contracting with a third party to independently verify the energy savings.
Workers Compensation Claims
Mrs. Stidham noted that there was a projected increase of $600,000 in workers compensation claims for the next fiscal year. Upon inquiry by Mrs. Stidham, Dr. Doug Garber, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resource Services, stated that the possibility of having an insurance company handle the Districts workers compensation claims was reviewed a couple of years ago and it was determined that it was cheaper to do it in-house. He stated that he would provide the Board with information regarding that particular review. In answer to Mrs. Stidhams question, Dr. Garber stated that most workers compensation claims tended to come from the blue collar labor force (i.e., custodial employees, transportation employees, food service workers).
Old Money versus New Money
(NOTE: The issue of old money versus new money was previously addressed at the March 14, 2003 Regular Meeting.)
Ms. Finkelstein requested indications on future budget documentation, as to what is old money and what is new money as she believed that such information was necessary for the Board to have when making decisions. Mrs. Barbara Linker, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Business Affairs, stated that she would work on a way to make that information available.
In response to concerns expressed by Dr. DeWitt and Mrs. Stidham, Dr. Doug Garber, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resource Services, stated that the District was moving as quickly as possible with the bus compounding recommendation.
The Board collectively agreed to schedule an Executive Session to discuss collaborative bargaining issues (including bus compounding), on April 29, 2003 (immediately following the previously scheduled 9:00 a.m. Special Meeting), in the Superintendents Conference Room, at the Dr. Vernon McDaniel Building.
Budget Reduction Proposals
The Board expressed their desire for the Superintendent to present additional budget reduction proposals in the near future. Ms. Finkelstein believed that the Superintendent should put everything on the table and let the Board make their decisions. The Superintendent stated that while he would provide the Board with budget reduction options during the following week, he would not however, make any budget reduction recommendations until additional information regarding the budget situation was received.
(Supplementary Minute Book, Exhibit B)
ADD 1. State of Florida Shelter Initiative Grant Application
(NOTE: This item was a grant application to provide an engineering evaluation of Washington High School to see if it would structurally meet the American Red Cross (ARC) 4496 standards to be used as a risk/hurricane shelter. Recently, there had been some conflicting information as to whether or not the school met ARC 4496 and as such, Emergency Management Division wanted to hire a professional engineer to provide a conclusive report to substantiate the construction standards to which this building was constructed. The grant program currently was 100% funded by State funds and it was anticipated that this grant would not cost the District any money.)
Motion by Dr. DeWitt, seconded by Ms. Finkelstein, to approve the State of Florida Shelter Initiative Grant Application, was approved 3 to 0, with Mrs. Bergosh and Mr. Clark absent for vote.
There being no further business, the Special Meeting adjourned at 10:30 a.m.