By ANANDA coleman
• Leader & Times
Following the March 7 school board meeting, USD No. 480 departments can now spend up to $10,000 without coming to the board for approval, though written permission must be obtained from director of business Jerry Clay. The higher threshold is a change from the $2,000 limit in the old policy.
Voting to give the district this extra leeway were board members Dan Diepenbrock, Stacy Johnson, Jim Jury, Nick Hatcher and Cheryl Louderback. Board president Reid Petty and member Tammy Sutherland-Abbott voted “No.”
Those in favor of the new limit said it was a matter of trust and efficiency.
“I feel that when the bid (limit) is as low as $2,000, the administration has to come to us for almost everything,” Louderback said after the meeting. “I don’t think they’re going to take advantage of us. I think it’s important that we trust each other and have good relationships with the administration.”
Other board members felt that this wasn’t a decision the current board should make so close to elections.
“I really think we should consider the new board with the bids and quotes. They’re going to be the ones who have to look at that policy, not us,” Sutherland-Abbott said during the meeting. “And I think they should be the ones to decide that change.”
She went on to say the issue was not a pressing one and could wait for the new board.
“I really think that (voting on this issue) is sending a message the wrong way to the community,” she said.
“Policies can always be brought up and changed if the new board doesn’t like it,” Louderback responded.
This particular policy pertains mostly to purchases for the grounds and similarly minor things, Louderback explained after the meeting.
“If these are huge purchases like paper, which we buy in bulk,” she said. “Those kinds of purchases will still come before the district for approval.
“Obviously, (the board) can change this,” Louderback said. “If members don’t like it, they can bring it before the policy committee and have it brought back up on the agenda.”
According to Louderback, the decision was not made frivolously.
“I have always been careful about spending money,” she said. “For the 18 years I’ve been on the board, I have been careful with the money. Back when the board voted on the bond issue, Reid Petty and I were the only ones to vote ‘no.’”
For Louderback, the decisions she makes on the board ultimately lead back to the students in the district.
“In a sense, I believe that we are almost second parents for the kids,” she said. “The teaching they get doesn’t just come in the classroom. It comes from us as adults and board members. We need to be a good example for them by showing trust and courtesy to others.”