School board continues budget process

MARSHALL – As one of five action items, a 2013-14 preliminary budget assumption was approved at the Marshall Public School board meeting Monday night.

The process of putting together a projected budget is difficult because of changing variables, and fiscal year 2014 is no exception, MPS Superintendent Klint Willert and Director or Business Services Bruce Lamprecht said. Factors such as state revenue and subsequent state aid payments, general inflation, cash-flow tendencies, interest income rates and salary settlements impact the budget process and overall budget development.

“The House, Senate and Gov. (Mark) Dayton all have separate proposals and the three don’t align very well,” Willert said. “So uncertainty is a real concern right now. I’m seeing that in other districts across the state, too.”

Projected Fund 1 expenditures for 2013-14 show an increase of 2 percent for general items and 3 percent for salaries and benefits or whatever has already been negotiated previously. The expenditure is based on the school district reserving a Fund 1 balance of at least 8 percent, or $1.8 million, which is only four weeks of expenditures depending on continued budget adjustment decisions.

The General Fund 1 balance for the 2012-13 year is estimated at $3,150,000, and for 2013-14 the projection is $2,435,000, or 10.8 percent.

Revenue projections for 2013-14 were based on a 1 percent increase in the general education foundation formula, no full funding for all day, every day kindergarten, sequestration-reduced federal funding at 8.4 percent, loss or reduction of integration funding, current enrollment projections, increased projected compensatory funding and reduced net loss in special education tuition.

“There have been all these task force activities going on, but we don’t know what will be implemented and what won’t be,” Lamprecht said. “That’s part of our angst. But what we’ve done is quite conservative.”

Lamprecht said that to be safe, the district took out the potential all-day, every day kindergarten funding ($400,000), which may not come through until the 2014-15 school year.

The lease levy was also increased by $150,000 to meet the lease payment from Southwest Minnesota State University to pay for the district’s portion of the Marshall Regional Track and Field Complex. In a separate action item, the board approved the annual installments of $159,371.99 for 10 years, to be paid no later than June 30 each year.

General education revenue was calculated based on the projected funding formula allowance of $5,276 per pupil unit and weighting factors for kindergarten (.612), grades 1-3 (1.115), grades 4-6 (1.06) and grades 7-12 (1.30). The pupil unit forecast then is estimated to be 2628.46 AMCPU (adjusted marginal cost pupil units).

The district expects to keep activity fees and ticket prices the same and will calculate special education revenues using previous history and trends as well.

Compensatory funding showed a significant increase in the number of free and reduced lunch population of students, which is a concern for the district.

“That means four-out-of-10 kids in our school are at the poverty level,” Willert said. “We’re nearing 38 percent free and reduced lunch population.”

On the expenditure side, Willert noted that state law requires schools set aside 2 percent of foundation aid for staff development. The additional amount the district would need to set aside is roughly $100,000, Lamprecht said. Transportation costs this year were estimated at $1.3 million, while heating and cooling demand was projected to be average, with the cost for natural gas and electricity adjusted to more accurately reflect the current rate.

In other action, Jeremy Williams was approved as principal at West Side Elementary, replacing Heidi Critchley and interim principal Bill Swope. Citing a need for an additional elementary principal, the district also sought candidates for a principal at Park Side Elementary. Darci Love was selected, recommended and approved to serve in that capacity. Both new principals will begin duties July 1.

The board also approved Stacie Mulso and Shelli Hawkinson to serve on the Community Services Board.

Marshall High School business teachers Brenda Kellen and Marica Ivers gave an iPad integration presentation to the board, highlighting positive and negative feedback from this year’s experience with incorporating 25 iPads into the classroom. Kellen’s students used iBooks with Story Wheels, iMovie, Animoto, Keynote, videos on YouTube, online textbooks, Blogger and a variety of applications.