Pine River-Backus School District approves revised budget

Pine River-Backus School Board says farewell to respected staff members.

Teacher speaking to PRB School board.JPG
Pine River-Backus teacher Shianna Hicks speaks to the Pine River-Backus School Board during their Monday, May 2, 2022 meeting about the Catalyst program.
Travis Grimler / Echo Journal
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PINE RIVER — The Pine River-Backus School Board reviewed a revised budget for fiscal year 2022 during its regular meeting Monday, May 2.

Business Manager Jolene Bengtson presented on the revised budget, which featured a $1,186,339 (9.6%) increase in revenues and an $854,911 (6.5%) increase in expenses.

There were various reasons for the increase in revenues. The greatest increase, $721,483, came in the form of funds distributed to the school in relation to the coronavirus. Other noteworthy increases included a $203,292 (78.2%) increase to free and reduced lunch funds due to the state decision to provide free lunch for all students.

Changes in expenses, likewise, appeared in several categories on the budget. Bengtson informed the council that Minnesota Power has increased rates for electricity at the school, accounting for a $176,142 (95.2%) increase in utilities. The company has not increased the amount they pay for buying back electricity from the district's solar array.

There were big changes in faculty pay, which resulted in a $122,443 (4.3%) increase. Also included in the increased expenses were some projects paid for with federal coronavirus funds, including a $125,000 increase for a project to replace and update the district's security cameras.


In other business Monday, the board:

  • Accepted the resignations of Barbara Gravette, Christine Kenyon and Mary Kay Lael, paraprofessionals; Brent Passarella, technology specialist; and Renata Remington, school nurse.
  • Approved hiring Brianna Blanchard as English/language arts teacher.
  • Learned of new positive coronavirus tests in the district, fewer than five, over the weekend.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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