Preliminary RC schools budget approved

Rush City Schools Superintendent Vern Koepp lauded the District #139 School Board following the board’s regular meeting Thursday night, saying members have put “real sound fiscal management” into practice while working on the district’s 2012-13 preliminary budget.

The board unanimously voted to approve the preliminary budget, which will utilize an estimated $7.5 million in revenue over the upcoming school year.

Of that amount, nearly $6.2 million will be garnered from state aid.

Koepp said the state aid portion reflects a slight increase from last year’s budget.

He also noted the district currently has a healthy fund balance of over $1.2 million.

Conservative estimates have the budget in good shape for next year, however there is a big capital expenditure coming up – namely, a roof replacement at the Rush City Aquatic/Recreation Center off South Eliot Avenue.

The $270,000 replacement is scheduled for mid-August and should be finished by September.

Koepp said the new roof is rated to last 30 years.

In addition to that expensive project, the district will be facing less revenue in numerous areas – such as the amount of federal grants allocated – which means Rush City schools will have about $200,000 less than last year to work with during the upcoming school year.

All told, expenditures will outweigh incoming revenue by about $600,000.

“We have a hefty deficit that we are projecting in the general fund,” Koepp said.

There is a factor that could help offset that estimated deficit, though.

Rush City Schools Business Manager Laureen Frost noted during the meeting projected student enrollment in the district is slated for 877.

Koepp explained the district typically keeps that estimate conservatively on the low side so it isn’t “burned” by ending up with fewer students than projected and subsequently a lower amount of state funding.

If enrollment numbers come in above the 877 mark, the district would end up receiving more cash from the state.

 

SCRED building project on schedule 

Planned construction of the new St. Croix River Education District Building off Dana Avenue is on schedule.

Koepp said ground had not been broken on the facility as of the school board meeting, but all of the financing for the building became available June 19.

“We’re still waiting on a couple of permits – there continue to be little hiccups along the way,” he said. “This has been by far the most complicated building project I’ve ever been involved with.”

Initial estimates have the project being completed in October.

 

Preparing for iPads

The school board approved the purchase of iPads for all its fifth-grade students during the 2012-’13 school year about a month ago and the board went over some of the expectations of the pilot program during the meeting.

The board came to the consensus that it would forgo charging a fee for iPads during the first year of the initiative and set forth some guidelines for using the technology.

• Students  will be able to take the devises home on a daily basis and download their own applications.

However, those applications will be wiped clean from the iPads when teachers in the school periodically synch the devises.

Those applications could be retrieved later for no additional charge if they’ve already been paid for, though.

• Students will be able to access the Internet wirelessly on the iPads, both at home and at school.

• Any inappropriate use of an iPad will result in the devise being taken away, with the duration of that removal decided by school personnel.

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