School board considers deficit budget

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 6/21/00.

For the third year in a row, superintendent Howard Caldwell presented a deficit budget to the Paynesville Area School Board at their Tuesday meeting. The proposed 2000-01 revenue budget is $9.5 million and the expenditures are about $10 million, leaving a budget deficit of $500,000.

The board needs to approve next year's budget before July 1. The budget is expected to be approved at the board's June 27 meeting.

"The budget numbers are conser-vative," Caldwell told the board. He anticipates more revenue than what he projected. As the budget figures change during the year, he will inform the board of the revisions.

"The projected fund balance looks better than anticipated," Caldwell added. The district had eight retirements this year, which lowered the payroll expense and will receive additional funds from the state.

By the end of the 2000-2001 fiscal year, the general fund is projected to be in debt by $222,124 and the food service fund by $1,657. However, the funds were farther in debt in previous projections.

The recent legislative initiatives are incorporated into the budget, Caldwell explained. The district will receive about $50 per student from the state budget surplus; $39 per student will be added to the formula for staff development. There will be an increase in special education funding from $8.15 to $19 per pupil unit. Of the district's $10 million budget, $1.5 million is earmarked for special education.

Last year the state designated one percent of the district's foundation aid from the aid to be used for staff development. This year the district will receive twice as much with the state covering the difference, Caldwell said.

"We won't be receiving a lot of dollars," said Caldwell of the state funding changes, "but it is better than nothing." He estimates the district could receive about $180,000 in additional funds from the state.

The district should receive about $40,000 in one-time funds for deferred maintenance. "The money will come in handy," Caldwell said.

The district also gets training and experience dollars, $120,000, from the state to augment an experienced staff. This, too, is a one-time funding.

"We still have a deficit budget," he added. "We need to look at our options for the 2001-2002 school year."

Compensatory revenue
The board approved additional compensatory education proposals for the elementary, middle, and high school. Compensatory funds are designated by the Legislature to aid students who need extra help. A total of $78,000 will be spent at the elementary level. An iMac lab, with 31 computers, would be set up at a cost of $52,000. The cost of the lab will be covered by $15,000 from the capital expenditure account, $10,000 from an elementary fund raiser, and $30,000 from compensatory dollars.

In the elementary school the proposal includes hiring a teaching assistant to work in second grade, to paying a portion of two auxiliary staff members, salary; to purchase accelerated reading books and tests.

At the middle school, the district would use compensatory funding for an at-risk program to help struggling students. Last year, the school sent students to the Middle Level Area Learning Center but this year they will hire a part-time staff person to work with the students here at a cost of $10,083.

Another staff person will be hired in the high school and middle school to help students who have not yet passed the mandated basic skills tests in reading and math. This staff person will be in the high school four-fifths of the time and middle school one-fifth. The new staff person will cost about $40,890.

Other business
• The board approved hiring Jenica Rindahl as the new middle school special education teacher. She replaces Lorraine Skrypek, who retired.

•The board approved a retirement request from Allen Hubred, custodian.

•The board approved joining the Stearns County Family Services Collaborative. Caldwell said the district is presently sharing costs for a mental health therapist at the elementary school and plans to add a chemical dependent counselor to serve the middle and high school programs.

•To realign their policy with the state, the board approved renaming the district's emergency procedure plan as the crisis management policy plan.

The plan was recently reviewed by a committee and updated. The plan covers what to do in a natural disaster, when weapons are brought to school, in a bomb threat, and a kidnapping, assault, or lockdown procedure.

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