The Pine River-Backus School Board approved a 2017-18 preliminary budget during its Monday, June 19, board meeting.
The preliminary budget projects a 16 percent decrease in revenues ($2,190,091) and a 3.7 percent decrease in expenses ($495,508).
The school construction project designed to improve security of the high school entryway and improve accessibility to the high school offices resulted in some of the largest shifts in revenue and expense. In a phone call, Business Manager Jolene Bengtson explained that $129,745 was moved from operating capital to debt services to make payments on the construction bonds.
This shift only resulted in a $3,506 addition to debt services because the new construction bond payments will take the place of old bond payments.
"We are still getting the same revenue, but we will be paying off bonds with it," Bengtson said.
There was also a $183,000 loss in compensatory revenue, but Bengtson said the school's levy and state aid increased and replaced those funds. Bengtson said the school district is expecting a decrease of approximately $32,000 in federal funding next year as well due to cuts to both Title I and Title II.
In the school's fund balance, there was an approximate $100,000 shift from the general fund to community services to pay for voluntary pre-kindergarten and a shift of $500,000 from the general fund to the capital fund, which is dedicated to resurfacing the school parking lot and reconstructing the press box on the athletic fields.
Bengtson said the 2017-18 preliminary budget is remaining relatively stable compared to its beginning balance. The projected fund balance for the end of the 2016-17 year is $5,689,688. The projected balance for 2017-18 is $4,294,748, a decrease of $1,394,941.
During the meeting, Superintendent Dave Endicott talked about the recent legislative session and how it might affect the district. Endicott said the Legislature approved a change to the base funding formula that would increase 2 percent for each of the next two years.
Endicott also assured the board that the Legislature decided to permanently fund compensatory funding, which had been considered for cuts.
The Legislature also agreed to continue voluntary pre-kindergarten funding and increase transportation sparsity revenue.
The board approved a report on the district's long-term facilities maintenance budget. The report included a 10-year projection of the school's revenues and expenses for facilities maintenance and a "statement of assurances" showing that the district agrees to use facilities maintenance funding only for qualifying expenses.
The 10-year projection along with the statement of assurances qualifies the school district for these funds. Bengtson said the district is expecting $312,371 in funding with approximately 54 percent to debt services and 46 percent to the general fund.
On a 4-2 vote, the board approved a sixth-grade athletic participation policy that says there will be no sixth-grade participation unless need arises, consideration will only be given if the number of participants prevents the district from fielding a team at the junior high level, playing time for seventh-grade athletes must equal or exceed sixth-grade playing time, and sixth-graders are not permitted to play at a level above seventh grade.
Board members Dave Sheley, Garny Gaffey, Chris Cunningham and Leslie Bouchonville voted in favor, and Katy Botz and Dawn Rubner were opposed. Richie Bean was absent.
In other business Monday, the board:
• Learned that the school entryway project is ahead of schedule. Footings for the new construction may be done by Wednesday, an abatement for asbestos has started and removal of the old flooring and lockers is complete.
• Approved hiring of the following coaches: Greg Ehlert for boys cross country, John Riewer for girls cross country, Tom Demars for varsity football, Mike Dinnel as assistant football coach, Rob Johnson as assistant football coach, Travis Hoffarth as junior high football coach, Terry Holden as football scout, Joshua Hirschey as varsity volleyball coach, Nicole Hirschey as assistant volleyball coach, Lisa Toft as assistant volleyball coach, Leah Freeman as junior high volleyball coach and Naomi Horn as junior high volleyball coach.
• Approved hiring Mackenzie Determan as speech language pathologist, Justin Granke as physical education teacher, Ryan Keddy as science teacher, Jennifer Crimmins as special education teacher and Ron Heil and Tom Walters as bus drivers.
• Approved child care leave of absence for early childhood family education teacher Kim Norman.
• Awarded a contract for milk to Kemps; contract for bread and related products to Pan-O-Gold; contract for diesel to North Star; contract for parking lot repaving to Anderson Brothers, Inc.; and contract for track resurfacing to Madsen Specialties.
• Approved a wellness policy. Endicott said the district has already been operating under the policy guidelines but the policy itself needed to reflect the school's operations and state regulations.