District making room for two new administrators in budget
Nearly $1 million targeted for school security upgrades
Mequon - While a minted 2013-14 budget in the Mequon-Thiensville School District is still months away, the School Board on Monday gave administrators the go-ahead to plug a number of items into the document.
The board spent several hours during its regular meeting and wrangled over issues concerning two new positions and security upgrades to all district facilities. The process of piecing together the budget began in October.
"This is just the first step in many steps," Superintendent Demond Means said of the budget development process. "Your decisions tonight give us the ability to start planning."
As with many districts, Mequon-Thiensville has been focusing its efforts on enhancing security. Director of Business Services Gail Grieger said the proposed budget includes $890,000 toward the efforts.
As part of the proposal approved by the board, the district will earmark funds toward modifications to the entrances of all schools serving students in kindergarten to grade eight. Upgrades have already been implemented at Homestead High School.
Other enhancements include adding security cameras to all buildings, upgrading door locks and security glass at HHS and enhancing software for building access.
The board was unanimous in allocating funds toward the building upgrades.
"It is imperative for us to provide a level of personal security for our staff," board member Gary Laev said. "We need good, effective work space."
The board also directed administrators to begin the process of seeking a professional to assume the position of director of human resources. While staff in the business office have assumed some of the related duties, proponents of the move point out a changing environment in the aftermath of Gov. Scott Walker's Act 10 legislation.
"We're in a very different situation today," said board member Mary Cyrier, who supports moving forward with the $150,000 expenditure. "This is a person who regularly will push for performance throughout the district."
Board member Cheryl Rebholz expressed reservations early in the discussion and inquired whether the function could be carried out in-house as a cost-savings measure.
"I'm just looking for a return on the investment," Rebholz said.
The board also voted to allocate funds toward a newly created director of communications and alumni relations position, though the figure was whittled down from the $107,000 recommended by administrators to $75,000.
Means said he currently devotes between 20 and 25 percent of his time working on newsletters, news releases and other communication efforts. He said other staff members at the district office have also devoted their time and resources.
While the successful candidate for the position will handle such public relations functions as community outreach, officials also are seeking someone with experience with fund development.
"It's a pretty specific skill set, and most people don't have expertise in it," School Board President Suzette Urbashich said.
Means said it is possible a professional could be hired in a consulting capacity through an outside firm.
The School Board will vote on a draft version of the budget in June, and the public will have a formal opportunity to weigh in on the budget and property tax levy at the district's annual meeting in July.
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