The Park Rapids School Board on Monday, June 21 approved a revised budget for the 2020-21 school year and a preliminary budget for 2021-22.

Based on actual income and costs, the revised 2020-21 budget listed general fund revenues of $21,889,728 and expenses of $21,435,123. Revenues for all funds totaled $25,995,504 and expenditures totaled $25,730,840.

Business manager Kent Fritze said he anticipates a surplus of about $264,000 districtwide. He said food service will have a planned deficit of about $139,000, in order to reduce the program’s fund balance.

Community Education will have a deficit of approximately $91,000 due to many events last year being canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fritze said the program will still have a positive fund balance.

The 2021-22 preliminary budget projected general fund revenues of $20,325,599 and expenses of $20,402,126. The totals budgeted for all funds are $24,670,996 in revenues and $24,753,241 in expenditures.

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Fritze said his staff budgeted conservatively because of uncertainty about what the State Legislature will do. Overall, he projected an $82,000 deficit, which he called “very good” on the scale of a $25 million budget.

He said food service expects to have a break-even year, assuming students are attending school in person and eating as usual. Community Education is also planning to return to a normal schedule, he said.

Lack of state budget bill

Superintendent Lance Bagstad reported that as of Monday, the Legislature still had not passed a state budget bill.

Fritze said state education commissioner Heather Mueller advised districts that if a budget bill is not passed by July 1, the Minnesota Department of Education will shut down, non-essential MDE employees will be sent home, payments will not be processed, and no state or federal funding will be sent out to school districts.

Fritze said Mueller advised districts that if that happens, they can either fall back on their fund balances or take out short-term loans.

“We have been planning for this for a couple years,” said Fritze. “We have healthy fund balances to be able to withstand this.”

Bagstad noted that not all school districts can say the same.

In consent items and general business, the school board:

  • Approved dissolving the boys hockey cooperative with Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.

  • Approved a Safe Return to In-Person Learning Plan for 2021-22, which will be posted on the school website. Bagstad discussed the community engagement aspect of the plan, including mostly favorable results of surveys about the district’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Heard Bagstad report that the school district is seeking input from school staff and the community about appropriate ways to spend Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) monies appropriated through the American Recovery Act.

  • Heard High School Principal Jeff Johnson report that many summer school students are making rapid progress in credit recovery, showing motivation to complete their outstanding course work.

  • Hired Hailley DeRaad as an elementary teacher, contingent on licensure; William Moore, head boys hockey coach; and Casey Hilden, elementary teacher.

  • Accepted the resignations of Gina Williams as Community Education program assistant, effective July 9; and Jamie Nordick, assistant football coach and junior varsity boys basketball coach.

  • Renewed the district’s membership in the Minnesota State High School League for 2021-22.

  • Approved a 2021-22 food service contract with MAHUBE-OTWA.

  • Approved a workers comp premium of $64,875 for the 2021-22 school year with Ram Mutual. Fritze said this was a reduction from $68,000 last year, partly because injured staff returned to work and partly because there were fewer accidents last year.

  • Approved a 2021-22 volunteer insurance premium of $476 with Berkley Accident and Health. Fritze said this has stayed the same for the past five years.

  • Approved a 2021-22 property liability insurance premium of $153,061 with Minnesota Insurance Interscholastic Trust, a pool of 28 school districts. Fritze said the premium increased about $5,000 this year, and noted that the trust paid some large claims last year.

  • Approved a wrestling fundraiser, selling tickets to a community event this summer.

  • Received an enrollment report showing that K-12 enrollment changed by only three students between May 12 and June 17, from 1,539 to 1,536. However, enrollment declined by 37 students during the 2020-21 school year, from a K-12 total of 1,573 as of Sept. 10, 2020. Bagstad and Fritze compared this to much heavier enrollment losses in other districts around the region, forcing some districts to cut programs and staff.

  • Approved payments presented, totaling $1,281,619.

  • Approved first readings of the 2021-22 employee, elementary school, middle school, high school, activities, substitute and technology implementation handbooks, coaches’ manual, student rights and responsibilities, code of conduct and discipline policy.

The school board’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, July 12 at the Frank White Education Center.