Positives seen in 2014 school budget

MARSHALL – The big news of the night came in the form of a Balanced Budget Book presentation by business director Bruce Lamprecht, who delivered better-than-expected financial information to the Marshall Public School board Monday evening.

Lamprecht said he put forth the best information the district has available, noting that a revised version of the fiscal year 2014 budget will come in October and a final one presented in January.

“There are increases in education funding for this year,” he said. “It’ll be a 1.5 percent increase on the formula, which is a big item for 2013-14. It’s about $200,000 in additional revenue. By and large, it was good news at the state Legislature for early childhood to 12th-grade funding.”

Along with every day, all day kindergarten funding, an additional 1.5 percent increase is expected for districts in 2014-15 as well, Lamprecht said, making budgeting a bit easier.

“I did some calculations, and we should be getting $350,000 in addition,” he said. “I think we’ll be in a lot better shape than we have been the past few years.”

While special education funding is still a little bit of a wild card, Lamprecht is optimistic about significant increases. The additions will help off-set some new positions that were added at MPS, including two elementary principals, a half-time special needs teacher and teachers for additional sections at the second-grade and fourth-grade levels.

“We always seem to be focusing on reductions, but there are certainly some positives with this budget that are coming forward,” Lamprecht said.

As devices are being integrated into the district, more and more people are going to need Internet access, Lamprecht said, pointing out that 32 percent of the capital outlay budget is being geared to technology.

“It amounts to 1.6 percent of the general fund balance,” he said. “We are moving forward, but we still have a lot of needs that are not being met.”

MPS Superintendent Klint Willert added that the district will likely encourage students and staff to use their own devices in the educational settings.

District enrollment is expected to rise slightly according to January numbers and August projections. Willert noted that MPS does not offer door pick-up service, which could account for some open enrollment losses.

Lamprecht pointed out that promises made in the past have been kept, beginning with the first operating referendum in 1998 and continuing through the one approved in November of 2011.

“We have all day kindergarten and we have small class sizes at the elementary,” Lamprecht said. “So, we’re in pretty good shape that way. It’s good that we’ve been able to increase sections when needed, too.”

Amy Eckart gave a Q Comp presentation, noting that a survey showed a 10 percent increase in staff satisfaction.

This past year, Eckart served as the Q Comp coordinator. There were also 40 peer coaches and 194 licensed staff members involved. After 12 years in the district, Eckart is moving to the Sioux Falls, S.D., area to teach.

The board approved 11 action items, including an annual literacy plan presented by curriculum director Amanda Grinager.

The board also discussed the future of activities and what should be done in regards to conference options. Since New Prague will likely get invited to be a full member of the Wright County Conference, Marshall will likely be ousted from the conference in football after two seasons. Discussions about merging the Southwest Conference and South Central Conference are starting to take shape. The board approved the plan to explore a scheduling agreement with the schools in the two conferences. The final decision of whether or not to go ahead with a new conference for all activities will come from the board at a later date.

Todd Pickthorn received the Tiger Spotlight award for his outstanding commitment to technology in the district. Pickthorn recently was one of the first leaders in technology to receive the CETL (certified education technology leader) designation. Pickthorn demonstrated his experience in the education technology field and passed a comprehensive two-part exam to earn the recognition.

Due to the Pride in the Tier Golf Tournament, the board voted to change the July meeting date to Monday, July 22, at 5:30 p.m.

After interviewing five candidates for the position of School Board student representative, the board approved two students, Sydney Hey and Daniel West, to serve in the representative capacity. The two high school students will officially begin their terms in July 2013.

The board approved the agreement between the City of Marshall and MPS which will allow the dirt work to begin on the Marshall High School ball fields.