SJ school board approves sinking fund projects

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH — Updating Upton Middle School’s parking lots. Resurfacing school tracks. Maintaining Dickinson Stadium.

These are some of the projects the St. Joseph school board wishes to have completed by 2019.

Kathy Hamilton, chief financial officer for the district, went over the building and site list with trustees Monday. The list looks at projects and updates the district places as a priority from 2015-19.

“It’s really just a projection and when we go toward facilitating these items, we will go toward the bid process as required and bring back formal proposals,” Hamilton said. “This year, the majority of it went back to repay our loan we took to finish the projects last year.”

The projects are paid for by the district’s sinking fund, which board President Amy Porritt-Peirce said is a “separate bucket of money” from the general fund.

“We bring in about $950,000 per year on that sinking fund,” she said. “I’m glad to see it’s being put to good use to maintain our schools.”

The list contains five to eight projects each year and focuses on building and site projects. Because the district levies a millage for the sinking fund, Hamilton said they are restricted on what they can spend the money on.

Hamilton said the Finance Committee meets with custodial, athletics, directors and principals to see what suggestions each school has.

“We look to see if it meets the requirements for the sinking fund and we put some rough estimate dollars of what the project would cost,” Hamilton said.

A new system

Superintendent Ann Cardon said last spring that the administration got a bit of a scare when they heard the district’s learning management system called “My Big Campus” was being shut down.

The board unanimously approved a five-year contract with Itslearning Inc. in Monday’s meeting worth about $59,000 for it to become the district’s new LMS software.

The district uses LMS software to allow teachers to share PowerPoint presentations and assignments electronically.

Cardon said one of the incentives to sign with Itslearning Inc. is that the company would honor the district’s agreement with its previous program.

“The first two years they will be honoring our agreement which was to be free for two years,” Cardon said. “So, this payment for the five-year contract won’t be starting for two years down the road.”

The next regular board meeting will be at 6 p.m. on April 11 in the Administrative Office at 3275 Lincoln Ave., St. Joseph.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on March 15, 2016)

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