November 18, 2010 at 9:45 a.m.

North Branch School Board told 2009-2010 budget holds no surprises, old primary building re-named

North Branch School Board told 2009-2010 budget holds no surprises, old primary building re-named
North Branch School Board told 2009-2010 budget holds no surprises, old primary building re-named

The North Branch School District anticipates receiving an official audit at its meeting in December; but last week the Board heard from the Director of Finance and Curriculum that she expects the numbers from last year will come in under-budget by about three percent.

Randi Johnson told the Board that revenues for the 2009-2010 school year were just .19 percent below what was projected in the overall budget. Expenditures were budgeted at $43.9 million. Staff helped keep expenses at $42.6 million.

The only budgeted fund where the district experienced an expense imbalance was in Community Education, but even there, the year's revenues were greater than anticipated.

Johnson then asked the Board to take action "designating" two funds at their existing balance levels, as a "point in time," she said.

The district severance and Q Comp line items were established unanimously, with member Vicki McDougall absent. The balance designation process is now required annually by the state and makes the line items easier to track.

Superintendent Dr. Deb Henton informed the Board that after getting staff input and reviewing the district's financial condition, and in light of this month's failure of all the levy ballot questions-- Henton recommends the district simply bank all expected federal stimulus monies. North Branch is reportedly getting $700,000 in one-time stimulus funding over a two-year period.

Henton said, "There's deep concern" over what's going to happen in St. Paul as far as student funding formulas go.

She added that the state already relied on a separate federal funding dispersement received earlier to "back fill" the state's education budget shortfalls. School administrators everywhere in Minnesota are worried about how school funding will be addressed considering continued state deficit projections.

Henton and school board member Jeanne Walz represent North Branch on the Schools for Equity in Education group. They reported that SEE leaders are drafting a platform calling for a lawsuit against the state should there be no adequate options developed in this coming session to address the school funding system in Minnesota. Litigation would be pursued, said Henton, if the legislature doesn't address inequities in district monies available across the state. SEE is also working with legislators on specifically-worded legislation that could help alleviate some of the budgeting issues districts face.

Board member Kirby Ekstrom is on the Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA), and he added that in the next month or so this assembly will also be reviewing the potential to take the state to court for failing to provide fair and equitable public education.

School Board Chair Kim Salo commended Randi Johnson and all the district's staff for adhering so closely to last year's budget.

Salo said she can not understand the district's reputation, among certain members of the community, that the district is not handling its finances responsibly. "How can it be called mismanagement," Salo stated, "when we come in within three percent of a year's budget. I can't even do that in my household."

The election balloting results were canvassed and remained unchanged. Ekstrom was re-elected, along with newcomers Jay Falk and Randy Westby. These are four year terms. The members' terms begin the first Monday in January 2011.

One last financial matter was acted on by the Board, acceptance of donations: $1,635 from the North Branch Area Athletic Association/traveling baseball fund for ballfield maintenance; a $100 athletic department donation from the Research Institute of Children's Hospital; $210 through Chad VanDyke pledge to the high school english department; $224 from Christine Anderson pledge to the high school and Sunrise River School got $179 from Land-O-Lakes milk container tops program.

The old primary school was renamed the North Branch Area Education Center, based on a survey on-line where the public ranked four or five names being considered. The district offices, ECFE program and other educational services were relocated to the old primary building, when the Board decided to raze the MainStreet School building. Fifth graders now have their own wing in middle school and the other elementary aged students (K-4) went to Sunrise River School.

~ Special meetings were set for Nov. 22 12:30 p.m. in mediation with the Teamsters Local 320 (bus drivers) and at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 17 negotiations with the principals association and support staff association were scheduled.


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