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Nevis School Board approves preliminary 2022 budget

The Nevis School Board approved the fiscal year 2022 preliminary budget at their June 28 meeting. The budget projects $8,394,534 in revenue and $8,426,338 in expenditures.

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A Pre-K Kindercamp is just one of the fun activities being offered at Nevis School this summer. (2020 Enterprise file photo).

“Expenditures at this time will exceed revenue by $31,804,” superintendent Gregg Parks said.

In comparison, revenue in 2021 was $8,112,062 with expenditures totaling $8,227,647.

State boosts funding

Minnesota’s $52-billion, two-year state budget was approved at the special legislative session on June 30.

The last budget piece to fall into place was the biggest one, education. The bill gives a boost in school funding with a 2.45 percent increase in the per-pupil formula allowance for the first year of the budget and another 2 percent the second year.

Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, the chair of the Senate Education Committee, said it was the biggest increase in 15 years, without imposing new requirements on schools.

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At the time he was working on the preliminary budget, Parks said there were many unknowns.

“Of all the years that I've been working on budgets, this has been the most difficult to pin down,” superintendent Gregg Parks said at Monday night’s school board meeting.

“It has been in a constant state of flux. This preliminary budget will give us an idea, but these numbers will need to be adjusted in January or February once we know more about what the real numbers are.”

Budget ups and downs

The fiscal year 2022 formula results in $282,472 in increase in revenue over fiscal 2021 and a minimum of $219,209 of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) revenue from the state and federal government.

Parks said 90 percent of those ESSER funds have to be spent in the 2021-22 school year.

Salary and benefit-related expenses are expected to increase by $166,028. This combines a reduction in overall salary costs, due to retirements and resignations, and pre-negotiation, estimated wage and benefit increases.

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Non-salary expenses increased by $198,691 due to increased costs in contracted services, tele-services provided for the speech-language pathologist, fuel costs, fees for students taking college coursework and secondary equipment.

Other program sources

“We believe we’re going to get an additional $24,500 just for our summer pre-K program, an additional $64,000 for our Summer Adventures program, and then $493,000 in ESSER III funding,” Parks said.

He added that the revenue budget will increase when the Minnesota Department of Education identifies additional aids such as special education, safe schools and declining enrollment compensation. Those numbers have not been released yet.

In order to track all of these additional funding sources, Parks suggested adding a category for ESSER funds to the budget. “These funds are for students who had learning losses, anything associated with COVID,” he said. “There’s also a component that says you can be flexible to a point, to supplement what you offer. Teacher Jodi Sandmeyer has been extremely helpful, working on how to implement these funds in the coming year.”

In other business the board:

  • Heard that 87 students attended the first week of the Summer Adventures program for grades 1-7, and 74 attended the second week. Two-week sessions will also be held in July and August. The program aims to make learning fun through field trips to places in the community. So far, adventures have included trips to the zoo, a farm, parks, the fire station and the beach, along with science experiments.

  • Heard that seven students are signed up for a pre-K class funded through the state. “This Kindercamp is going to be a great event for us, and we’re hoping we can do it again next year too,” Parks said.

  • Entered a closed session to discuss teacher negotiation strategies.

The next school board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, July 26 in the school media center and on Zoom.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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