The Pine River-Backus School Board approved a preliminary budget at the Monday, June 17, regular meeting after brief discussion.
The budget showed a decrease in both revenues and expenses with a .9% reduction in revenues ($110,621) and a 1% reduction in total expenses ($127,377). The proposed total revenues are then $11,959,279 and total expenses are $12,563,109.
The local and state revenues decreased and increased respectively by almost the same amount. Local revenues decreased by $170,415 in State Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) and REACH (Relationships, Effort, Aspirations, Cognition and Heart) grants.
The SHIP grant was a one-time grant to buy a bike fleet for the district while the REACH grant will now be funded through Sourcewell rather than PR-B acting as fiscal host to the funds. District expenses also decreased with loss of those funds by $105,000.
While those local sources decreased, state sources increased by $170,325 thanks to a 2% increase in the funding formula and a projected kindergarten enrollment increase. The district will, however, expect a decrease in compensatory funds of $150,071 due to fewer free and reduced lunch applications received in fall of 2018.
Previously, the district had qualified for the Community Eligibility Provision through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which allowed the district to offer free meals for all students regardless of income. However, since the district began offering free meals, fewer recipients who may have qualified for free and reduced lunches have submitted applications. Because the district is returning to regular priced meals in 2019-20, a $50,000 revenue increase is anticipated in student paid meals.
Increase to staff salary and benefits also accounted for a $184,727 increase.
A reduction of one teaching position in the elementary led to a decrease in elementary expenses of $51,204. The teacher in this position retired and the district is not currently planning to seek a replacement.
High school expenses saw an increase of $85,513 with three teacher positions and one paraprofessional position being replaced. The Alternative Learning Center saw an increase of $56,098 for addition of a middle level intervention position.
The district also approved various facilities projects, including repairs to the football field press box ($200,000), track and field storage building ($50,000), riding scrubber equipment ($15,000), Bobcat with brush attachment ($22,000), track and band equipment ($20,000) and for annual classroom furniture ($12,000).
The budget also included $72,000 in funding toward technology projects, including Chromebooks with management, replacement classroom projectors, server replacements and upgrades, 30 replacement staff computers, switches, chargers, screens, keyboards, replacement printers and headphones.
There are 10 long-term facilities maintenance projects totaling $209,150, including building automation upgrades, water fountain and bottle fillers, asbestos abatement, lockers, performance gym painting, carpet replacement and others.
The total operating capital expenses are projected at $607,250, or a $77,581 (11.3%) decrease.
Board member Dawn Rubner requested additional time to review the preliminary budget during discussion. She felt she had not had enough time to personally review the budget or long-term facilities maintenance budget. The district must have a preliminary budget approved before June 30, however. Rubner was the sole vote against the budget, with five voting in favor.
Rubner and board member Katy Botz both requested that font size be increased in the future for documents pertaining to the long-term facilities maintenance budget. Botz also asked that the board have a conversation in the future about adding more committed funds to the budget. Board chair Chris Cunningham made note of the request. The board later discussed possibly adding the conversation to the docket during a future planning meeting to be scheduled either for July or August.
In other business Monday, the board:
• Approved a maternity leave of absence for Deborah Schlueter, high school science teacher.
• Agreed to hire Gina Peterson as mid-level interventionist.
• Terminated a contract with Jackie Merritt, cook.
• Accepted resignation of Savanna Doran, paraprofessional.
• Approved the elementary student handbook and a local literacy plan.
• Approved a resolution following state recommendation, eliminating an account used exclusively for extracurricular activities, merging those funds into the school's main account.