School board receives intital report on legislative impacts

A lot of guesswork can be involved in trying to calculate the impact of legislative changes on school budgets. Park Rapids School District business manager Olive Springborn reported some of her projections at Monday night's meeting. Part of the d...

A lot of guesswork can be involved in trying to calculate the impact of legislative changes on school budgets.

Park Rapids School District business manager Olive Springborn reported some of her projections at Monday night's meeting.

Part of the difficulty, Springborn explained, is that when programs are opened to more students, it's not known how many people will take advantage.

For example, she said the Legislature changed state statutes governing early intervention services to infants and toddlers. The law requires county boards and school boards "to coordinate and pay for" these services, mainly targeted at children under age 3 who are involved with abusive parents or come from homes where there is substance abuse.

Other changes are more straightforward.


Although the school's per pupil rate will increase 4 percent for 2006-07, if enrollment continues to decline as projected, Springborn estimated the percentage will bring in $129,200.

Board member Dianna Dotson asked if this would cover the cost of inflationary increases in fuel for heating and transportation.

Springborn said she budgeted about $280,000 for 2006-07 to cover energy cost increases.

A change in the teachers retirement contribution rates (from 5 to 5.5 percent) effective July 1, will cost $29,900.

State lunch reimbursement will go up from 10 cents to 10.5 cents, which may bring in $900 more for the coming school year.

Some of the changes, Springborn said, will add "a lot of duties to what we already do."

Because of cash flow issues, the district issues aid anticipation certificates.

Betsy Knoche of Ehlers & Associates, financial advisors, presented the board with the results of bids on $5.13 million in certificates.


Last year, the district issued $5.09 million in general obligation aid anticipation certificates.

"This is money you are borrowing in anticipation of money you know you have coming," Knoche said, explaining it allows the district to have enough cash to pay its bills when they're due.

Park Rapids and many other school districts and some cities in the state take advantage of the ability to issue the certificates.

Parker/Hunter, a Division of Janne Montgomery Scott LLC, Blue Bell, PA, offered the best net interest rate of four bidders at 4.01 percent.

Last year's rate was 2.85 percent, but Knoche noted investment rates also are up so the district will be able to earn more money on the certificates.

The fact that the district carries a favorable credit rating helped reduce the borrowing costs, she added.

In other action Monday night, the school board:

  • Heard a presentation from Century Elementary principal Mitch Peterson and Bob Kapsner, a special education instructor, on the success of all-day, every day kindergarten as shown in reading scores, particularly.

Among other benefits, Peterson said, is the test scores can be shown to parents so they also can see how the progress their students are making.
Superintendent Glenn Chiodo added that his first year in Park Rapids he signed 12 open enrollment forms for kindergartners, the second year 15 forms and last year he signed only two.


  • Approved hiring Terry Zoller as half-time industrial technology teacher at Century Middle School, hired Chuck Goodwater as a custodian and hired Joe Morgan as head boy's basketball coach. The board approved a resignation from Kay Netteberg as gymnastics coach for the 2006-07 season only.
  • Heard a Progress Park Rapids presentation and agreed there should be follow-up discussion at a future board meeting.
  • Heard from Century Middle School principal Bruce Gravalin there will be no pop - only water and juice - in vending machines there starting this fall and he also wants to eliminate candy.
  • Learned from Area High School principal Al Judson a survey has been sent to students, parents and staff, called a "climate assessment," as the first step in developing a plan to reduce the dropout rate.

The district has been awarded a dropout prevention grant, but needs to submit a plan spelling out how money will be spent to address it.

  • Approved a plan from the Park Rapids Tennis Association to eliminate the cottonwood trees on the west side of the courts and replace them with a shelter belt along the west property line. The tennis association will pay all costs.
  • Learned from board member Gary Gauldin that because of airport zoning, the school can't erect a wind generator by the Century School. A committee of citizens is looking for an alternate location, such as the Brush Lake School Forest.

Gauldin also reported the committee is partnering with the University of Minnesota, Itasca-Mantrap and Minnesota Power on the renewable energy project.

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