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DC School Board has first reading of 2018-19 budget
June 15, 2018

Nancy Dashwood
Staff Writer

DASSEL, COKATO, MN – Dassel-Cokato School District Business Manager Tina Palmer led school board members through their first read-through of the district’s proposed 2018-19 budget Monday evening.

Assumptions regarding revenue vs. expenditures

The district’s general fund estimate for 2018-19 shows a shortfall of $562,138.

Anticipated general fund revenues include:

• a two-percent increase per pupil general education formula;

• an enrollment decline of nine students;

• a 4.6-percent increase in special education aid;

• a 19-percent decrease in Title funding, and

• a decrease in compensatory aid.

Assumed general fund expenditures include:

• no change to staffing;

• meet contractual obligations in all contracts;

• maintain 20-percent cut to supply budgets,

• a 4.3-percent decrease in work compensation insurance;

• curriculum budget back to annual allocation; and

• an increase to technology subscriptions.

District transportation funds are anticipated to break even.

The operating capital fund

The district’s capital fund estimate for 2018-19 shows a shortfall of $457,944.

Assumed revenue will be provided by a third year of long-term facilities maintenance and levy.

Expenditures from the capital fund for 2018-19 include:

• annual building level allocation;

• transportation vehicles;

• curriculum;

• copiers;

• the activities department;

• district technology;

• kindergarten addition lease payment - year four;

• FOCUS room remodel; and

• piano purchase (partial).

The food service fund

The district’s food service fund estimate for 2018-19 shows a shortfall of $46,722.

Assumed revenue sources include:

• a 10-cent increase in lunch prices due to USDA guidelines;

•could charge families for milk/juice break

• summer food program increased participation;

• small increase in the federal reimbursement rate; and

• an increase in milk price from 35 cents a carton to 50 cents per carton.

Assumed expenditures from the food service fund include:

• equipment purchases of $30,490,

• increase in food expense,

• increase in milk expense; and

• meeting obligations in all contracts.

The board took no official action to change meal or milk prices, but will address the subject at a meeting in June.

Other funding assumptions

Palmer also told the board that the district’s scholarship fund shows an assumed $8,400 shortfall, and the dental fund shows an assumed shortfall of $1,067.

A forecast of a million bucks in the hole

When the funds were added together, estimated revenue for 2018-19 totaled $26,520,843, Projected expenditures for the same time frame totaled $27,582,218. Big picture: the district may see a $1,061,375 shortfall for 2018-19.

Keeping Dassel Elementary safe

Powers reported that the bids for a new fire suppression system for Dassel Elementary came in much higher than anticipated. He also said the two bids received for the project were very close.

The project involved adding a sprinkler system throughout the building. Powers added that drop ceilings would be a part of the cost of the project, but that it would result in a “nice building update.” He also reminded the board that the expense for the project had been budgeted.

The project requires all classroom equipment be removed from the classrooms. Work is expected to begin the week of July 4, and be completed by the time staff returns to work in late August.

The board accepted the base bid for the project of $578,600.

Brainstorming about the levy and bond process

Powers indicated he was working on a frequently asked questions document regarding the upcoming levy and bond amounts to be voted on by residents in November.

“We’re going to put as much information as we can put there,” Powers said. “We have a ton of information.”

Powers stated the information would be available on the district’s website, which is currently being completely rebuilt.

Board Chair Rebecca Clemen said she wanted the board to be highly visible throughout the summer, to answer questions. She wanted the board to be involved in both the Cokato Corn Carnival and Dassel’s Red Rooster Days.

Board Member Irene Bender requested public weekly update from Powers and videos of building principals explaining what they needed and why would be helpful.

Powers indicated upcoming steps toward the vote in November will include getting final numbers by July. Final meetings with project architects and district attorneys are anticipated to take place in July as well.

The district’s, legal counsel will be tasked with coming up with language for the question to be on the November ballot.

“We are doing great, we just have to stay focused,” Powers concluded.

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