District 88 Board gets budget update

NEW ULM – The District 88 Board of Education on Thursday revised the current year budget, in part to more accurately reflect factors such as the student count and the resulting amount of state aid, increased clarity about federal funding, and just completed contract settlements with employees.

General (operating) fund

Revenue was revised up $20,856 from the previously adopted budget, from $19,595,651 to $19,616,507. Expenditures were also revised up, by $485,489, from $20,024,819 to $20,510,308. These changes result in a budget with a deficit of $893,801.

Some key considerations that played into the changes:

The student count was somewhat lower than originally projected, and state aid went down an overall 1.16 percent. That said, state aid for special education went up from projections, by 9.41 percent. The budget adjustment also factors in a more accurate number for a new state revenue category, literacy aid.

Federal revenue, not a big percent of the budget, was 10.87 percent more than expected (a difference of $44,907). The federal government funds programs based on the percent of low-income students.

A sizable amount of gifts to the school system, $41,507, boosted the budget.

Because of settling employee contracts, expenditures for salaries and wages increased by 3.5 percent compared to the previously budgeted amount (from $9,932,640 to $10,283,775). Salaries and wages decreased by almost 2 percent from last year, however, as a results of retirements and position cuts, noted Business Manager Myrna Meunier.

Capital expenditures were revised up by $211,969, or 38.31 percent from previously budgeted, to reflect new projects such purchasing iPads (from donations) and various other projects.

Food Service fund

Revenue in the Food Service fund was revised down from $772,210 to $738,225.

One major factor was a decrease in lunch sales at the high school, by $49,284. Officials attributed this outcome to the introduction of open lunch.

This trend, however, was in part offset by better than expected sales in breakfast and a snack cart at Jefferson Elementary School.

Expenditures in this fund were revised up from $767,350 to $786,689, in part because of the need to purchase equipment for the Jefferson kitchen.

Para contract

The board approved a new two-year contract with paraprofessionals, retroactively covering the last, and also the current, school year. The contract is a result of a process that included negotiations and mediation.

The contract is similar to those signed with other employee groups, said Board Chair Duane Winter.

It involves a wage freeze for the first year (last school year) but includes step raises.

The district contribution to health insurance premiums for year one of the contract was similar to that for other groups and covered the premium increase.

For the current year, paraprofessionals received a 1 percent raise and a longevity increase of 5 cents per hour.

The monthly district contribution to health insurance premiums increased by $40.

Some contract language was cleaned up, and a provision was changed to add two more days of family medical leave.

Unlike talks with other groups, which resulted in two additional years of contracts, talks with paraprofessionals need to resume soon, to negotiate contracts for the next biennium, officials said.

As part of its agenda, the board also rescheduled some of its forthcoming meetings and heard presentations from Superintendent Harold Remme about the possibility of offering an early retirement incentive and on long-range facility planning.

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