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Pequot Lakes School: Board approves preliminary budget

In its Monday, June 19, meeting, the Pequot Lakes School Board unanimously approved its preliminary budget for the 2017-18 school year. In the preliminary budget, the district will operate in the new school year with $20,605,176 in total revenues...

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In its Monday, June 19, meeting, the Pequot Lakes School Board unanimously approved its preliminary budget for the 2017-18 school year.

In the preliminary budget, the district will operate in the new school year with $20,605,176 in total revenues. Anticipated expenditures include two new school buses, an adjusted health insurance assumption of 10 percent and the addition of the school's robotics program as a budget item of $10,000.

Through all funds, the district would operate with a deficit of $73,954, up from $109,158 the year before, and an unassigned fund balance of 16.87 percent.

"That is toward the higher end of the range we are looking to maintain," business manager Jenny Max said. "With all of the moving parts we have had this year building the budget, we felt like we landed in a pretty good spot without really having to squeeze more out of different areas."

Cuts the district made include not hiring for a technology integration coordinator after the resignation of Kevin Furst, reducing an Eagle View Elementary School interventionist position to half-time and decreasing PSEO costs by from $200,000 to $175,000.

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"In this budget, you will see that we have reduced by an entire (full-time equivalent)," Superintendent Chris Lindholm said, referring to the technology position. "It is not like we did this without pain. We cut a very integral position to our district to get to this balanced budget ... but that day is coming when we won't have a pot of money. With class sizes coming in at 100 and graduating classes of 120 to 140, it doesn't paint for a rosy picture when what we get from the state doesn't even cover the cost of the increase in health insurance. Yes, this is balanced, but the day is coming when we are going to have to face the music of an increase in class sizes and cutting teaching positions. There is really no other way to do it."

In other business, the board:

• Tabled an agreement for a cooperative agreement for music programs with Crosslake Community School, requesting to see an agreement before making a decision.

"I feel like we are agreeing to something and we don't know what we are agreeing to," board member Kim Bolz-Andolshek said.

• Designated Lindholm as the identified official with authority for the district, which must be done on a yearly basis.

• Approved the 2017-18 Alternative Career Pathways Memorandum of Understanding. The only change to the memorandum from the previous year is that all teachers can now opt for a stipend rather than credit to incentivise teachers who have yet to earn a master's degree to take part in the program.

• Accepted a bid for Resource Training & Solutions Service Cooperative's health insurance program for the coming school year.

• Approved 14 donations to the district.

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Board member Derrek Johnson was not in attendance.

The board will not have a work session on the first Monday of July because of the Fourth of July holiday.

Dan Determan has been a reporter for the Echo Journal since 2014, primarily covering sports at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus
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