With enrollment down by roughly 60 this year, the Pequot Lakes School Board discussed a revised budget for fiscal year 2020-21 in its work session Monday, Nov. 9.

Due to the decrease in enrollment, the school district saw a decrease in state aid for this year. However, federal funds meant to combat COVID-19 have countered that loss somewhat, and the district expects to operate in the coming year with a net surplus of $71,423, a decrease of roughly $58,000 from the original projected budget.

“That may change as we continue to navigate where the district is headed, given the unknowns of the COVID pandemic, but at this point in time, the projection is just slightly over $70,000 surplus,” business manager Heidi Hagen said.

The district is actually seeing a net increase to revenue by about $300,000, but has had several additional expenses - including new staff hires and personal protective equipment - to offset that.

The board also heard a report from High School Principal Aaron Nelson regarding parent and student feedback to the operations this school year.

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Prior to this week, the high school operated in a hybrid learning model that saw students physically in classrooms two days per week, with students primarily sticking to “pods.”

Nelson indicated that parents’ concerns stem from their children struggling in this format, issues with technology and a lack of structure.

“There was also a request for tutoring,” Nelson said. “We are definitely looking at this and figuring out how to do it, but we struggle with the ‘how.’”

The general response from parents is that things are fine, but a better experience would be preferred.

“I think it is important for us to recognize that - when Aaron and I are in meetings with principals and superintendents around the state and region - there is nobody who feels like they are batting 1,000,” Superintendent Chris Lindholm said. “No one thinks they are doing a good job. All of us are spinning our wheels and trying to figure out how we connect with the kids we have lost … There are just so many barriers to get through.”

The board’s work session was conducted via Zoom.

Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or dan.determan@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.