The Crosslake School Board on Monday, July 15, approved its 2019-20 budget. The budget includes a deficit spend of $87,372.58, although board members are optimistic that enrollment will increase throughout the school year as anticipated to offset those costs.

The budget is based on a 275 ADM, or an average daily membership calculation, tied directly to student attendance. Total revenues are $3,539,310.43, an $118,066.19 increase from last year. Total expenditures are $3,625,397.86, a $205,446.33 increase.

Also included in this budget is a $50,000 increase in transportation costs from the school’s contracted transportation company, Crosby-Ironton Transportation, Inc. Transportation costs jumped from $121,800 to $171,800 in the new six-year contract with the school.

The board hired Connie Lyscio as an online physical education teacher; Abi Kiehlbauch, a third/fourth-grade seat-based teacher; Scott Hetherington, an online science teacher; and Katy Wadewitz, an online special education teacher.

The board approved a new paid time off policy on a 7-1 vote, with board member Lisa Steffen opposed. The policy reduces PTO for full-time licensed staff from 13 days to 10 days per school year and doesn’t allow for carryover of paid time off so staff members can’t bank PTO for years and later use it or cash it out if they leave.

In exchange, licensed full-time staff on staff during the 2018-19 school year will be given a $300 stipend at the end of each school year to offset the reduction of three PTO days. Any staff members hired in 2019-20 and going forward will not receive the stipend.

Support or administrative salaried staff will receive 10 PTO days per year. Non-licensed hourly staff receive five days of PTO.

The $300 stipend would be added to the salary grid, so each step would increase this amount by about 2 percent. Teachers with seniority, for example, would more likely be receiving about $400, based on what step they are on.

Steffen, also a teacher, didn’t support the policy change.

“It’s giving teachers the short hand of the deal. It’s how I feel. For as much as we do, every time we turn around, something else is taken away,” Steffen told the board.

“You don’t feel like it’s a fair trade?,” asked Mara Powers, a board member and teacher.

“No,” said Steffen. “I don’t think $300 is justifying what we just did.”

Powers said for teachers like herself who don’t take much time off, she felt the payout seemed fair.

“I know it’s not what we used to have but, looking at our budget, I feel this is responsible,” Powers said.

The board hired a new auditor, MMKR, a Minneapolis-based CPA firm.

The board also hired Best & Flanagan LLP in Minneapolis as the law firm to represent the school. Attorney Craig Kepler had been previously representing the school, and he switched firms, so the school board decided to continue the legal relationship with Kepler and also switch legal firms.

The playground build is planned for Tuesday-Thursday, Aug. 6-8. While announcements will soon be made on how and when volunteers are needed to help assemble the new playground equipment, those who wish to volunteer may contact the school at 218-692-5437 from 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday to sign up.

The board met in closed session to evaluate the job performance of Executive Director Todd Lyscio during the 2018-19 school year.