R-II brainstorms fiscal ideas

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During the El Dorado Springs R-II board of education’s regular session last month, R-II teacher Debra Marsh gave a presentation to the board on behalf of the district’s teacher salary committee. 

Last month, while presenting statistical findings to the board, Marsh revealed R-II teacher salaries rank low compared to 26 similar districts in the area. 

During this month’s regular session on Thursday, May 13, when discussing R-II’s priorities regarding Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund II and III funds, Oates said one of the highest priorities for these coronavirus relief funds is increasing staff salaries. 

“Right now, I’ve been pretty obsessed with how to get operations costs down so that we can improve our staff salaries,” Oates said. “I got to thinking, maybe we could use some of this ESSER money to one-time expense something, and then reduce operating expenses for the long term.”

By making an investment now, it pays off in the future, Oates said. 

Speaking on his investment ideas, Oates said a lease purchase lighting upgrade from 2017 had an original principle of $588,000. If the district pays it down now, it will cost around $430,000 — a move which frees up $68,000 a year, Oates said. 

Another idea to free up budget room for raising staff salaries is solar panel installations.

“Right now, solar panels are averaging in Missouri about an eight-year payoff,” Oates said. “If we install half-a-million dollars worth of solar panels on this campus, then that saves $62,500 a year in operations costs and electricity.”

Solar panels have a guaranteed life of 25 years, Oates added. 

In response, the board expressed interest in both ideas. The item was not put up for a vote during Thursday’s regular session.