Curt Mitchell Mark Liana Clopton School Board

Board members Curt Mitchell and Mark Liana examine budget information.

CLOPTON – A special meeting of the Pike County R-III Board of Education Thursday ground to a halt as board members disagreed over whether they had been provided with the information they asked for at their last meeting.

The meeting was called in order to drill in to the preliminary budget passed at their meeting on Monday, July 22.

That budget shows a shortfall of more than $300,000 — though Superintendent Mark Harvey said he believes that number will shrink by the time the board revisits the budget in September, after finalized assessment information is available and the district’s tax base is set. The situation had already changed, Harvey said, since the budget was calculated in June.

“Our hope is, after the tax information, to come together with better news and better numbers. I totally anticipate that,” Harvey said.

Three board members — Christie Kuntz, Greg Talbert and Clay Lockard — said they had expected to receive budget information in a format that would allow year-to-year comparisons and insight into how the deficit emerged.

“I didn’t think it was that unclear,” Lockard said. “I’m disappointed because it takes time out of our schedule to come down here — I know you guys took time out of your schedule too, but this doesn’t seem like me that it accomplished anything.”

Other board members, including Board President Bob Danuser and Mark Liana, as well as Superintendent Harvey, said their impression was that the study session had been called to look at and explain the line-by-line budget in more  detail — reviewing information in the format that had already been put before the board.

“My understanding for tonight was [that we were going] to give the proposed budget and go through it, so that everybody understood how to read it,” Danuser said.

Over the course of the meeting, Danuser asked members to specify how they would like budget information presented at future meetings. Board members asked for comparable information about budget line items going back several years and a high-level financial statement.

In the interim, the Board decided it was unable to proceed with a more detailed discussion of the budget.

“Guys, I’m frustrated because we’re not having good communication.” Harvey said. “I apologize. I was trying to keep this as simple as we could make it, and I guess I screwed up by doing that.

Its next meeting was scheduled for the evening of Tuesday, July 30, after this newspaper went to press.

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