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Audit shows Park Rapids School District is healthy

The Park Rapids School District is earning "kudos" for the "progress made" in increasing fund balances.

"You are trending in a positive direction in all funds," Heather Johnson of Carlson Highland, a CPA firm in Fergus Falls, told the board and administration Monday. "Kudos to all of you."

The audit for the year ending June 30 shows a general fund balance of $3.3 million. This compares with $2 million in 2010, just over $1 million in 2009 and 2008 and $113,263 in 2007.

The general fund balance net change increased $1.3 million from 2010 to 2011. "You've come a long way in a short time," Johnson said of the district "analyzing spending, making cuts and spending federal funds as needed.

"Good job."

The state recommends that at year-end, local governments and schools maintain an unassigned fund balance in their general and special revenue funds of 35 to 50 percent, or no less than five months of operating expenditures ($6.2 million for Park Rapids).

Park Rapids Schools' unassigned fund balance is 11.3 percent based on total expenditures. This compares with 7.8 percent in 2010, 3.8 percent in 2009, 4.7 percent in 2008 and a negative .1 percent in 2007.

Johnson indicated the district's fund balance is not uncommon and surpasses many. "You've made great strides, but there's still room for improvement."

Total fund balance in all funds (food service, community education, building construction and debt service) is $4.8 million.

"Overall, it's a pleasure dealing with this district. There were no complications," Johnson said.

In other action, the board:

n Congratulated Teacher of the Year Vicky Hanson.

n Met and congratulated the participants in state swimming, cross country and tennis competitions, with coaches Todd Fritze, Kerry Johnson and Nicole Brandt introducing the athletes.

n Viewed a video presentation on Upward Bounds, a federal program aimed at "keeping students on the path to success."

Leah Girard of Bemidji State University said fewer Park Rapids students have been participating in recent years. Enrollment begins in January.

Upward Bound provides support to participants in preparation for college entrance.

Upward Bound serves high school students from low-income families and from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor's degree.

n Reported on the board's and an administrative team's evaluation of superintendent Glenn Chiodo.

"The comments were very positive regarding his ability to communicate with all groups he comes in contact with, his leadership skills, the trust to allow the team to lead and not micromanage," board chair Sherry Safratowich said of the administrative team's written findings.

"The board had similar findings," Safratowich stated. "Mr. Chiodo has excellent communication skills and an understanding of school finance. He is a strong leader with the ability to lead in all settings. He holds the staff accountable, while remaining respectful. His broad background in education definitely has been an asset to District 309."