The Rush City School Board on June 20 approved the fiscal year 2014 preliminary budget as presented by district business manager Laureen Frost and Superintendent Vern Koepp.
Board members also agreed to keep the noon transportation service for preschool students and families for the 2013-14 school year. With the costs involved, along with all-day, every-day kindergarten starting next fall, the board agreed to revisit the issue next spring.
The proposed budget shows an increase in General Fund expenditures of about $301,713 compared to the fiscal 2013 budget, a deficit of approximately $664,000 and an estimated fund balance of $913,000 in the General Fund for fiscal 2014. Also, current information shows General Fund revenue for fiscal 2014 will be about $183,000 more than 2013.
In addition to reviewing revenue and expenditure proposals, the board also addressed technology.
On technology expenditures for 2014, technology teams and building principals recommended the following items, totaling $76,700, at the elementary school: two Smartboards with document cameras (would meet goal in outfitting all instructional spaces), $9,400; 80 iPad minis, complete with protective cases and classroom lockboxes for sixth grade, $29,000; 60 iPad minis, with protective cases and storage carts for grades 1-4, $24,000; and computer upgrades, staff computers and other areas, $14,300.
At the high school, they recommended technology expenditures totaling $106,100, including Chromebooks for social studies and English areas, 30 iPads for general use, two Smartboards and computer upgrades and staff computers.
Boardchair Stefanie Folkema weighed in on staff versus technology priorities in the budget.
“I totally support technology, but how is it sustained?” she asked. “I’d rather see teachers teaching specials (such has music and physical education) than that money going toward technology.”
For Board Member Scott Tryon, he wants to see students have their technology needs met, especially in keeping them prepared for the future.
Superintendent Koepp said it’s a balancing act, though feedback from the buildings supports technology. “We’re heading toward a digital curriculum,” yet another need is taking care of the taxpayers’ investment in school facilities, he added.
It also was noted that student enrollment, which is tied to state funding, remains healthy, as an additional 10 students are projected for the next school year.
In other news, the board:
• Accepted the resignation of high school science teacher James McFarlane.
• Authorized two additional paraprofessionals — one for half-day kindergarten students moving to full-day grade one, and one for the additional kindergarten classroom.
• Agreed to employ the following people to begin the 2013-14 school year: Angela Mazzuca, English teacher; Erik Hall, science teacher; Wendy Schmidt, teacher; Deborah Meissner, school nurse, beginning Aug. 14; and Kirsten Bjork, Early Childhood special education teacher.
• Acknowledged Grant Nicoll and Carvel Kuehn as teachers achieving tenure. The district is also working on a transition plan for Lee Rood to assume the activity director and community education director positions, currently occupied by Bob Schlagel who is retiring, beginning 2014-15.
• Reviewed a brief summary of legislative changes that will impact education. Some of these include numerous changes to the funding formula for state aid; a requirement to adopt a policy for early admission to kindergarten; setting the minimum number of instructional days at 165 days per year; allowing students to take other assessments rather than the MCA or GRAD tests in satisfying state graduation requirements in reading, math and writing; and continuing the time line for legislation related to principal evaluations and teacher evaluations.
• Accepted Hastings Co-op Creamery, out of Hastings, for providing milk products for fiscal 2014; Federated Co-ops Inc., Princeton, for unleaded gasoline ($3.12) and diesel fuel ($3.24) for fiscal 2014; All Seasons Services, Pine City, for snow removal for fiscal 2014 and 2015; and Indianhead Foodservice, Eau Claire, Wis., for food service products for fiscal 2014.
• Accepted the base and alternate quotes from low bidder Prefer Paving Inc., Rush City, to repair and repave Tiger Trail and the north parking lot. The bid package totals $210,100.
• Adopted a resolution, relating to conducting a referendum revenue authorization election in 2013, which is necessary if the board chooses to keep its options open for an operating levy. The resolution does not require the board to seek an operating levy.
• Authorized the Rush City Education Association to raise funds for student scholarships. The association has chosen Mabel’s Labels as the vendor of its fundraiser, which will start in September.
• Adopted a resolution establishing dates for filing affidavits of candidacy. Filing for individuals interested in becoming a school board member begins on July 30 and will close on Aug. 13, 2013. Candidates must file in the district office at Rush City High School and pay a $2 filing fee prior to 5 p.m. Aug. 13.