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Revised budget approved by DC School Board
Monday, Feb. 27, 2012
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Revision includes nearly $1 million in deficit spending

By Jennifer Kotila
Staff Writer

DASSEL, COKATO, MN – The Dassel-Cokato School Board approved deficit spending of nearly $1 million at Thursday’s meeting.

Deficit spending in the original budget for the 2011-12 school year was about $400,000, according to Business Manager Tina Palmer.

When the original budget was approved, the district expected an enrollment of about 35 more students than are currently enrolled, which led to nearly a $300,000 shortfall, noted Palmer.

Enrollment this year is down to 2,213 students, but it is typically around 2,320 students.

Additionally, there was a decrease of about $22,000 in state aid received by the school, and a $41,100 decrease in special education aid.

Although the jump in deficit spending is dramatic, it was not unexpected. “We always talked about being short $300,000 because of lower enrollment,” Palmer said.

The original $400,000 in deficit spending was based on a plan to reduce fund balances as recommended by the district’s auditor.

Taking into account the revenue shortfalls due to lower enrollment and decreased funding, the revised budget is “pretty much in line” with the planned $400,000 deficit spending in the original plane, Powers said.

“We’re not in a bad position – this is why we have a fund balance,” Powers added.

Not only is the district’s budget affected by lower-than-expected enrollment, but staffing changes will also have to be considered, Powers informed the board.

None of the changes will be extreme, and most will be relatively painless, Powers said.

Although Powers said he expects enrollment to stabilize next year, he noted that the post-secondary education option will have a fairly constant impact on the district.

Lake Region Cooperative donates $10,000

The board accepted a $10,000 donation from Lake Region Cooperative to be used for ten $1,000 scholarships this year.

Final contract approved for district

The board approved a two-year contract for its 13 custodians at its Jan. 13 meeting.

Custodians will receive a 2 percent salary increase in year one, and a 1 percent salary increase in year two.

Language was also added regarding longevity pay and health insurance.

The total two-year increase in salary for custodians will be $18,009, and $6,800 will be added in total benefits which include FICA, PERA, health insurance, dental insurance, and long term disability.

Odds and ends

In other business, the board:

• had a lengthy discussion regarding the digital learning initiative. The Enterprise Dispatch will cover this topic at more length in a future edition.

• had a lengthy discussion regarding the expense of the DC Regional Trail and how the contributions required by each entity continue to rise each time the project is turned down for a grant.

Although no decisions were made, the board came to a general consensus that it would be unwilling to contribute much more than about $25,000 to the project.

• heard summaries from each school board member regarding the workshops they attended during the Minnesota School Board Association’s Winter Leadership Conference.

• approved the 2012 spring coaching assignments.

• approved FMLA for Lori Hanson, and a one-year leave of absence for Stacey Doering.

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