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School looks to streamline bookkeeping process

Change would stop tracking of lower cost assets freeing up district financial staff for other projects

A change in how the Medford Area Public School District keeps track of capital assets will free up office staff for other tasks.

That is the hope of district finance director Audra Brooks who asked for the change to set a $5,000 threshold for items recorded on the district’s financial records as capital assets. Brooks was at the Dec. 4 policy committee meeting seeking the change.

Under current district policy assets costing less than $5,000 and greater than $1,000 must be inventoried and tracked.

She noted that accounting rules don’t require depreciation of these comparatively small-value assets and that tracking them in the accounting system presented a significant amount of work for the district staff.

“I think it will streamline how our coding needs to be done,” Brooks said, also noting that in regard to computer equipment, the district’s technology engineer Dennis Hinderliter already keeps an inventory of the computer equipment.

The policy was last reviewed in 2016 and it was noted that government accounting standards periodically change. The change will remain in first reading for next month’s meeting for an additional review.

In other policy action, committee members:

_ Called for the merger of policies governing end of season athletic banquets with a separate policy about activities that are allowable at school sponsored social events. It was noted the two policies include a lot of the same information and merger of them would continue the process of not having a distinction between sports and other co-curricular student activities. “I see this as a great opportunity to save paper and ink,” said committee chairman Paul Dixon.

_ Clarified the independent study policy to make it easier to read while also noting that if an independent study is approved in advance and the work is done the student will receive credit. District administrator Pat Sullivan noted this was a growing education area as students seek advanced classes. He said it has been used in high level math, technology and in languages.

_ Eliminated a clause in the policy governing student class sizes that established an across the board class size recommendation of 25 students with a range of plus or minus five students with no limitation on open enrolled or special needs. Sullivan asked for the clause to be eliminated because in practice that standard was not practical for all grades stating that for example, having 30 students in a kindergarten class would be too many.

In addition to the reviews of policies presented for first readings, the following policies were approved on second reading and will go to the full school board for approval later this month:

_ Response to intervention policy - referencing the existing response to intervention plan for educationally at risk students.

_ Summer School -- there were no changes to the existing policy.

_ Online education -- There was clarification that students can only count two credits in junior year and two credits in senior year of online instruction toward the graduation requirements.

_ School sponsored organizations -- There were some editorial changes in the wording including the deletion of an anti-discrimination clause since the district already has a specific policy against discrimination.

_ Suicide prevention response -- The four-page policy was unchanged from when it was reviewed during first reading.