|12/23/2021 10:49:00 AM|
Audit shows healthy balances for Chisago Lakes; levy and budget OKd
by JEFF NORTONThe Chisago Lakes School Board its their annual Truth-in-Taxation meeting before the regular school board meeting on Thursday, December 18.
Director of Business Services Robyn Vosberg-Torgerson painted a picture of just a slight increase in the school levy of $194,076, or 1.78 percent. That brings the total from $10.8 million to just over $11 million.
The general fund is increasing by $281,078 while the community service fund is decreasing by $24,610 and debt service fund is going down by $62,391.
Vosberg-Torgerson said that some increases are revenue neutral, as state funding goes down. She said that state aid is going down by $82,875, which leaves a net increase of $111,200.
Brad Falteysek of Abdo (Formerly Abdo, Eick & Meyers) presented the annual audit as well to the school board.
It was another positive report, with the general fund balance growing from $4.495 million to $8.7 million. The district’s stated policy is to have 12-15 percent of covered general fund expenditures, and growth put them from 12 percent last year to 21 percent this year. But, Vosberg-Torgerson said that the unassigned fund balance, which is the balance the board often cites, is still less than five percent of the district’s operating expenditures.
Vosberg-Torgerson broke down that fund balance, saying that over $4.5 million is in the reserved/restricted balance, which is $2.6 million more than last year. Those amounts are for student activities, staff development, operating capital, gifted and talented learning and long term facilities maintenance.
Vosberg-Torgerson said the large increase in operating capital came from the sale of the old Lakeside Elementary property. “The board made the decision to reserve or set that money aside to help fund the Primary School capital project and will be spent within the next year,” she said. “We have been building up the long term facilities maintenance reserve to be able to fund the replacement of the turf at the high school. The district has been reserving an amount each year to be able to replace that. Those are the two largest restricted balances.”
That leaves the unassigned operating at roughly $1.988 million, which is about $520,000 more than last fiscal year. “That amount was similar to the amount that we determined to be budget reductions during last year,” Vosberg-Torgerson said after the meeting. “We reduced $440,000 in fiscal year 2021 and planned the remaining $1 million in fiscal year 2022.
Tyler See, another rep from Abdo, explained that the main reason for the variance in what the district budgeted for and what they actually received was that there were more federal funds than expected and the district really underspent in some different departments to come in under budget.
Vosberg-Torgerson expanded on that, “We didn’t know about a lot of the federal CARES Act money when we budgeted, and it was the same on the expenditures side. There were some federal dollars that were not budgeted for that saved money. But, federal money has to be spent in order to receive. In other words, we need to purchase the item or spend the money before we can request reimbursement.”
The district received donations from the Center City Fire Department of $4,000 and $1,900 from DonorsChoose, a non profit organization.
Superintendent Dean Jennissen updated the board on the COVID numbers. They’ve stayed fairly consistent in cases most of the year with about 30 cases per week among students. Out of Thanksgiving they had a few more cases than normal. And they may see higher numbers out of Christmas break as well.
Jennissen said he’s heard from some in the public who want to potentially adjust the school calendar this year still, including extending Christmas break.
Neither Jennissen, nor the board felt like that was the best option for students or teachers. They have built in snow days and days near the end of the year that can be adjusted if needed throughout the rest of this school year.
Jennissen also wanted to share some stats from the district.
• 89 percent of the staff are experienced teachers having taught three or more years.
• 55 percent of the teaching staff have a master's degree.
• 73 percent of our high school graduates (2020) went on to a two or four year college after graduation.
• 100 percent of our 9-12 students have a Personal Learning Plan.
“We have experienced teachers that love to continue to learn and improve their art. We have students that create plans, work to follow through on them and students that wish to continue to learn beyond the day they turn their tassels,” he said. “When talented students and experienced, passionate staff come together, great things happen. “