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Nevis School's general fund balance has bounced back

Nevis School's general fund balance of $912,078 drew smiles at this week's meeting, the amount back to where it was a few years ago, superintendent Steve Rassier pointed out.

Tim Gross of EideBailly arrived at Monday's meeting to report the fund balance is up from $684,177 in 2008 and $442,986 in 2007.

General fund revenue by source reflects 82.4 percent of the district's $5,348,124 was received from the state in 2008-09, as compared with federal, local and "other" sources. This is up from 80 percent from the year before.

"It shows how dependent the school is on the state," Gross said.

In reviewing general fund expenditures, Gross pointed out the staff salary and fringe benefits at 77 percent are "the highest I've seen." The average range is 60 to 72 percent, he said.

After the meeting, Rassier pointed out Nevis school district salaries are below average but fringe benefits are above, with the most expensive insurance option at $13,026.

While the boon in the fund balance was good news, the school's enrollment numbers drew some furrowed brows.

Enrollment, at 523, is down 23 students from last fall.

"It's a huge concern," Rassier said after the meeting.

Kindergarten students number 32 this year, the smallest of the 13 grades. Ten kindergartners arrive from Walker-Hackensack-Akeley via open enrollment, 10 from Park Rapids and 12 from within the Nevis district.

Elementary students total 267 this year, with 140 of them open enrolled.

High school has 256 students arriving for class, with 115 of them open enrolled.

The board approved a reduced preliminary tax levy for 2010, down by $107,496, 13 percent, from the 2009 levy.

The majority of this reduction is due to the handicapped access levy being reduced by $60,000, health and safety down by $26,382 and debt service decreased by $17,904 as a result of refinancing, Rassier explained.

The board approved a local tax levy of $705,077, the final levy to be ratified in December.

Former board member and teacher Gary Stennes was appointed to fill the board vacancy created by the resignation of Walt Bromenschekel.