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Freedom School Board discusses finances, senior trip, livestock shows and personnel issues in Feb. 11 meeting


February 14, 2019

Kathleen Lourde

Bryant Weber (left) tells the Freedom School Board about the plans for the senior trip and upcoming livestock shows. Seated around the table clockwise, from left, are board president Shane Morris, Superintendent James Miller, board clerk Shan Wilson, board member Philip Kirkpatrick, Principal Michelle Shelite, and board deputy clerk Robert Babcock.

The Freedom Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting Monday, Feb. 11. Present were board president Shane Morris, board clerk Shan Wilson, board members Philip Kirkpatrick and Robert Babcock, along with Superintendent James Miller and Principal Michelle Shelite. Also present were minutes clerk Patricia Dauphin and ag teacher Bryant Weber, who also heads up the senior trip activity and yearbook. Board vice president Russel Reed was absent.

Financials, Policies Approved in Consent Agenda

The consent agenda came up first for a vote. Approving the consent agenda would mean approving all of the following: the minutes of last month's meeting on Jan. 14; the treasurer's and activity fund reports; new encumbrances for the general, building, and child nutrition fund and warrants for those three funds; the updated wellness policy; the M.A.S. contract for 209-2020; the OKTLE contract for 2019-2020; Health, Wellness and Safety Committee members; and the updated 2018-2019 school calendar.

Before a vote could be taken, however, Superintendent Miller said the item regarding the M.A.S. contract needed to be removed, because he hadn't yet received the contract in the mail for the board to review. The board then voted to approve the consent agenda with the M.A.S. Contract removed.

Financial Reports in the Consent Agenda

Freedom Public School's balance sheet summary (of the general, building, child nutrition and sinking funds for 2018 and 2019) showed assets of $1,534,909.70 – $44,314.69 of that in cash, $1,139,000 in investments, and $351,595.01 in revenue receivables. Liabilities, reserves and fund balance totaled $1,534,909.70 – with $47,591.38 being outstanding warrants and the remainder being the fund balance total of $1,487,318.32.

The new encumbrances included in the consent agenda broke down as follows:

Building Fund: The Building Fund purchase order register for Jan. 24 to Feb. 4 listed items totaling $748.95. These items were largely transportation-related (fuel and supplies); others included repairing the door of a Suburban for $141.20, registration for Miller to attend the OASA Conference for $120, and science class STEMscopes for $102.

The Building Fund encumbrance register for Jan. 1, 2019, to June 30, 2019, listed non-payroll items totaling $7,809.47. The largest items on this list included moving the electrical for the ag door installation at $1,000, (another similar item, "electrical supplies to move electrical for ag door," came in at $500), relocating an existing gas line for the ag door at $4,000, and installing and upgrading fiber optics at $4,000. The encumbrance register's balance forward was $184,077.81, bringing the total to $191.887.28.

General Fund: The General Fund encumbrance register for Jan. 1, 2019 through June 30, 2019, included payroll items totaling $3,146.92 and non-payroll items totaling $5,558.95. The vast majority of the non-payroll total was the $5,000 that went to Rosenstein Fist Ringold for legal counsel.

Other Consent Agenda Items

Wellness Policy: Another item in the consent agenda was approval of the Freedom Public School Wellness Policy. The draft of this policy can be found on the school's website at The preamble of the policy states "Research shows that two components, good nutrition and physical activity before, during and after the school day, are strongly correlated with positive student outcomes." The policy outlines the school district's efforts to ensure all students have the opportunity for healthy eating and physical activities throughout the school day.

OKTLE Contract for 2019-2020: OKTLE stands for Oklahoma Teacher and Leader Effectivenss. OKTLE provides services related to staff evaluations, including teachers, support staff, and administrators. The total cost of the services for 2019-2020 is $481.75.

School Calendar: Upcoming items on the school calendar include Feb. 18, which is Presidents Day and there will be no school, and March 8, which will be the second semester midterm. Spring break will be March 18-22. The most recent revision of the Freedom School Calendar is available on the school website at

Superintendent Discusses Legislation, New Ag Door, Status Of Tax Protests

Superintendent Miller attend the Rural Superintendent Advisory Council on Feb. 6, where he learned about upcoming legislation and, along with the other rural superintendents, provided input on potential impact on rural schools.

"We discussed the funding formula change," Miller said. "There's a bill coming out ... they're looking to change all the rates on the formula. It hasn't gone through committee yet. It's getting ready to be heard. We really don't know what it's going to do. Once we know a little more detail, I'll run the numbers to see how it's going to affect us. The way it's written now, it's looking like it will favor districts that have a high number of economically disadvantaged students. So, lots of free-and-reduced kids, and you'll probably benefit from it. But not guaranteed.

"We talked about House Bill 1247, which is called the Equal Opportunity Scholarship Act. We know it better as the Catalyst Fund, because we were the recipient of some Catalyst Fund grants. It allows business or individuals to make a one-year or two-year commitment to donate to education funds and if they do they get a 50 percent or 75 percent tax credit. Someone could donate $130,000 to an education fund for our district, we would receive it and after all the tax credits worked out it would only cost them about $25,000." He urged his representatives to support it.

"The ag door – we got all the fire alarm stuff moved out of the way, got the stock show out of the way." Now work will progress: the plumber is expected to be at the school by today, Wednesday, Feb. 13, to move the gas lines off the wall, and the electrician will do his work after that. The metal for the new ag door is at the school, and installation should begin Monday and be done within a week.

Miller will attend Alternative Education Northwest spring regional meeting on Feb. 21, and EdCampOKC on Feb. 23.

"The Sandridge Midstream tax protest was settled. It cost us about $19,000 this year in collections." DCP continues their tax protest – "it's going to court most likely," Miller said, "but we don't know about the BC Mach or the other Sandridge" tax protests yet, as to whether those will go to court as well.

"We're on target with our budget," Miller said. "We've currently collected about $1.9 million of our $2.2 million budget, so we're right where we thought we would be on our collections.

Principal's Report

Parent-teacher conferences were rescheduled for the night of the board meeting and the following night, said Principal Shelite.

"Basketball Districts – we went to playoffs. Our boys played their hearts out; didn't win, but they still get to go to Regionals. They play Thursday at 3 p.m. against Aline-Cleo. The girls ended their season at District, but did a good job throughout the year," said Shelite.

"Our lower elementary – fourth grade down – will be holding Valentine Day parties this Thursday at 2:30 p.m. In their classrooms, they're getting ready to start making their sacks."

2019 Senior Trip

Bryant Weber spoke to the board about progress made toward funding the 2019 Senior Trip, planned for May 19-25. The group will first go to Washington D.C., and will leave for New York City on Wednesday, where they'll spend the rest of their time before heading back home. "We have pretty much the same plan as usual, the museums, the tour guide's set up," Weber said.

By using a "hop on, hop off" approach in D.C., they hope to let the kids see more of the D.C. sites, such as the Smithsonian Museum, National Archives, Capital, White House, Holocaust Museum, Arlington Cemetery and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Iwo Jima and Jefferson Memorials, among many others.

They've added a half-day in New York City to hopefully incorporate more sites there as well, Weber said. Among the New York sites will be Times Square, Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, Rockefeller Center, NBC Studio, Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, Wall Street, Little Italy, and a Broadway play.

One more fundraiser is planned for March, which Weber expects will bring in the last of the money needed to fund the senior trip.

The board voted to approve the senior trip.

Local Livestock Show

"We had our local stock show on Friday," said Weber. "It went pretty well, except we had one little flaw: a steer decided it wanted to go cruise around town. We had to go catch it and bring it back to the show." The show had about 40 animals entered in it.

The 4-H and FFA had their trophy auction at the end of January, and it raised about $16,000, Weber said. The county stockshow will be Feb. 18-19 at 8:30 a.m. both mornings. Feb. 28 through March 7 is the district livestock show. Oklahoma Youth Expo will be held March 12-22. "OYE is the spring stock show for the state level," said Weber. "It's the world's largest youth expo."

Child Nutrition Programs Receive Positive Audit

At this point, the board discovered a discrepancy between the agenda posted for the public to see and the agenda distributed to the board members, which may be a violation of the Open Meetings Act. The board clerk Shan Wilson was particularly disturbed. "This will be the second meeting in a row that we've done this," he said. "It's unacceptable and I'm sick of it."

An item about the child nutrition programs audit was left off the agenda distributed to the board members that was in the agenda posted for the public. However, the packet of information given to the board members did have the child nutrition programs audit findings.

"We had our annual child nutrition audit," said Miller. "We had a very good audit. There's an immense amount of work. We had great responses from the state about Robin and Patricia. Everything was right. We did verify one too many people. They don't want us to do that." It was a good enough review, said Miller, that they won't be back for three years.

The board approved the review.

Other Business

The board approved the FY19 C2 E-rate bids and agreement with Pioneer Telephone Cooperative for network switches, fiber and UPS's subject to E-rate funding.

The school is working on applying for an Accelerating Promising Practices for Small Libraries" grant, which could bring in as much as $10,000 to $50,000. The board approved continuing that effort.

The board approved the application for an account for PikePass.

The board also approved the Junior Class Prom grill fundraiser. The junior class will sell $5 tickets to raffle off a Pit Boss Classic wood-fired pellet grill, with a retail cost of about $420.

Personnel Issues

The board went into executive session to discuss the employment of Principal Shelite and the employment performance of Superintendent Miller. Upon return to open session, the board voted to approve the employment of Shelite for the 2019-2020 school year, and approved a contract for her for that year.

As to Superintendent Miller's performance evaluation, the board voted to give Miller "the document discussed in executive session."

The board also approved to contract with Becky Castor for speech language pathologist services for the 2019-2020 school year.


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