School board reviews proposed budget

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 4/5/00.

Superintendent Howard Caldwell outlined proposed budget cuts and possible areas for increased funding at the Paynesville Area School Board meeting March 28.

"We need to evaluate what we want to do next year," Caldwell told the board. By the end of this fiscal year, June 30, 2000, the proposed fund balance will go from $1,218,773 to $577,866. By June 30, 2001, the district fund balance will be in the red by more than $326,000. Caldwell said the proposed budget adjustments are not figured into the budget projections.

Caldwell reminded the board they haven't balanced the budget in three years. "We have been living off our surplus fund balance. I don't mean to point doom and gloom. We have an excellent staff and programs; however, we need to raise red flags," he added.

Caldwell cautioned that in the next five to six years, enrollment will drop by almost 200 students. He showed the student-teacher ratio for all grade levels. "At present, we have excellent ratio across the board in all grade levels," he added. "None of the classes are beyond the point of being unmanageable." With the projected decline in enrollment next year, the district will see approximately $106,000 less in revenues from per pupil aid.

The district did qualify this year for $30,000 from the state class size reduction fund.

Budget cuts
"We need to make adjustments to retain our quality programs," Caldwell said. At the elementary level, he suggested not to replace Jim Elseth after he retires. Another teacher already on staff would fill the fourth grade position, a savings of more than $40,000.

It was also suggested that the teacher aides in the elementary school be cut back a half hour per day, a savings of more than $21,000.

"With proper scheduling, we may be able to cover all areas. Some of the teacher's aides will start earlier or later to meet the needs of the students," he added.

Elementary Principal Todd Burlingame said he was not aware of Dee Linn's retirement plans when he gave Caldwell his proposals for the elementary school.

After reviewing all the proposed budget adjustments at the different grade levels, the district could save about $67,873 next year.

Revenue adjustments
Proposed revenue adjustments included raising the annual fees for athletic passes, fees to athletic events, and athletic participation fees for next year.

At present, admission to home games is $3 for adults and $1 for students. Student rates could be raised to $2; a revenue increase of about $3,000. It was suggested that the adult rate also be increased $1.

Adult athletic passes are presently $25 per person or $50 per couple. They would raise $10 each; an estimated revenue increase of about $650, based on the number of passes sold this year.

Student athletic passes are presently $15 for kindergarten through fifth grade and $20 for middle and high school students. It was proposed to raise the rates $5 each, an estimated revenue increase of about $825, based on the number of passes sold this year.

Athletic participation fees are presently $10 for middle school students and $20 for high school students. It is proposed to raise the fees $5, an estimated revenue increase of $3,445.

If all recommendations are approved in April, revenue would increase about $7,920.

Caldwell informed the board the district isn't receiving any additional aid from the state. "The numbers are deceiving. Legislators say they are increasing our funding, but what they don't say is that the cooperative aid and levy fund and secondary vocational aid is rolled into the formula next year. That is a loss of $123,000 for the district.

"Based on our current foundation aid formula, the district will see a decrease of $85,251 next year from the state than what we received this year," stressed Caldwell.

"We need to look at the budget one year at a time. In three years, we may need to make major budget cuts," he added.

Board chairman Pat Flanders said each year the board has been making small cuts to avoid any major cuts. "If we have to make major cuts, the district will be providing poorer quality education," he added.

"I feel we will have a more positive deficit projection than what has been given tonight," Flanders said.

"I want you, the board, to take a look at all the proposals and talk to the teachers and staff members," Caldwell told the board. The board will be making a decision at an April meeting.

Extended contract
The board approved adding 25 days to Matt Dickhausen's contract for this year. When he was hired as the athletic/ community education director, his contract was for 215 days a year, which he have worked by the middle of May. Without the contract extension, the department wold be without a director for over a month. His contract starts July 1 for next year.

Caldwell informed the board that when Dickhausen was hired, the district wasn't exactly sure how many days it would take Dickhausen to accomplish all the tasks the district was asking of him. "Because it was a new job and we had a number of new employees within that department, I suspect it took more time than was anticipated," Caldwell said.

It was suggested to add 25 days to Dickhausen's contract. Dickhausen felt this should be enough time in which to accomplish the remaining portion of this year's programming.

Caldwell informed the board that Dickhausen's contract does not impact the general fund, but is paid out of the community education fund.

School calendar
The board approved the proposed school calendar for the 2000-2001 school year. School will start on Sept. 5, 2000. The last day of school will be June 7, 2001.

New to the calendar next year will be two scheduled late start days and two early dismissal days. The staff will use the time for inservice.

Another new feature to the calendar is a student registration/parent conference day for the high school on Feb. 5 from noon to 8 p.m. The middle school and elementary school will have school as usual.

"This day will be a planning day for students and parents to explain what credits are needed to graduate and which graduation standards still need to be met," John Janotta, high school principal, explained.

The elementary school will hold their parent/teacher conferences on April 9 from noon to 8 p.m. At this time, the high school students will continue to have classes as usual.

Other business
•The board approved advertising for bids to construct the auditorium and fitness center. The bids can be submitted no later than May 4. The bids will be officially considered for approval at the May 9 and May 23 school board meetings.

•The board approved a leave request from Denise Landsteiner, elementary teacher, for the 2000-2001 school year.

•The board accepted the retirement request from Dee Linn, elementary instructional assistant.

•The board approved an agreement with Alan Habben of Frieler, Habben and Company to conduct the 1999-2000 financial audit.

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