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Audit shows Nevis School District is financially stable

Auditors presented the Nevis School Board with good news this week.

The school's unreserved, undesignated general fund balance has reached $956,017, up significantly from the $528,162 amount in 2006.

The amount has returned to totals seen in 2003, when the fund balance totaled $974,067.

"We're financially stable," superintendent Steve Rassier commented after the meeting. The good news - a fund balance representing 20 percent of the overall budget - comes after four years of strategic planning, he said. "We're there now. It's taken a long time to come to this point," indicating with "conservative spending" the district will remain financially sound.

The audit, compiled by Brady Martz, certified public accountants from Grand Forks, shows revenue over expenditures totaled $339,828 in fiscal year 2010.

The food service fund balance saw a $27,628 increase, from $58,091 to $85,719. Community Education's expenditures exceeded revenues by $6,992. Total revenues were $6,061,677 while expenses were $5,673,087. The district's increase in net assets was 14 percent from the prior year.

But the good news was tempered by the reality that when federal stimulus funds go away, districts "don't know where the money will come from."

In the report, the accountants stated the district is dependent on the state for a large majority of its funding, the future uncertain.

"The funding is directly tied to student enrollment, making it critical for districts to maintain or increase their student population to have the dollars needed to meet the constantly increasing costs of education," the analysis stated.

"Increases in salaries, health insurance, books and supplies, heat and transportation fuels are constantly increasing, making it extremely difficult to maintain a balanced budget while meeting the ever changing needs of the student body and community.

"At present, the Nevis District has a voter approved operating levy of $126, which is significantly below the state average of $710 per pupil.

"Unless there are changes in the state funding formula, additional operating dollars will be needed by this district to maintain the educational program the students need," the report states.

The accountants also advised implementing stronger controls over cash receipts by using numbered tickets for events and segregating duties so the person preparing the deposit slip is not the person collecting the money.

The CPAs also suggested the district develop a formal investment policy.

In other action, the board:

n Approved hiring Rebecca Scraper as finance bookkeeper at $17 per hour plus benefits. She will be replacing Betsy Anderson.

She is an "employee at will," and "may be terminated or the contract modified at any time at the discretion of the board of education."

n Approved substitute bus driver Daniel Stacey as transportation supervisor. He replaces Emery Norquist who is retiring from his supervisor and route driver positions.