Pequot Lakes School District: Board discusses funding national competitions
In its work session Monday, June 1 - its first in-person gathering since March - the Pequot Lakes School Board discussed how best to use district funds in terms of activities. Specifically, board members discussed a policy change stating district funds will not be used to finance student or coach participation in national competitions.
“Once in a blue moon, we would have a kid in a national speech competition years ago,” Superintendent Chris Lindholm said. “When we started robotics, in the first year they went to St. Louis for the national competition, and that was kind of a ‘wow’ moment … When they repeated two years later and went to Detroit, the district was in an awkward position.”
With national competitions, Lindholm said costs can include registration fees in the thousands of dollars, along with commercial drivers to transport students, avoiding the liabilities of having coaches drive them to another state.
Things became more complex, Lindholm said, with the school’s trap shooting program growing in popularity.
“I found out with my own son that the national competition happens every single year and everyone can go,” Lindholm said. “You don’t have to qualify; you can just go. It puts the coach in a really awkward position of having to say ‘we’re going’ or ‘we’re not going.’”
The recommendation placed before the board is to say in the activities handbook that the district financially supports all student activities to the state championship level, but not beyond that.
“What I see with this that is hard is we could have a $10,000-$15,000 cost that we didn’t anticipate,” board chair Kim Bolz-Andolshek said. “How do we manage and support this at the same time?”
Lindholm said he does not feel that such a policy is a “proven solution,” and the district refusing to pay for these activities may perpetuate an inequity gap in the district.
The board agreed to discuss this again in July, hopefully with new activities director Byron Westrich present.
The board also performed a preliminary review of the district’s fiscal year 2020-21 budget during its work session. In a revised version of the budget, Business Manager Heidi Hagen said the district projects operating with a nearly balanced budget with total revenues of $24,201,822 against expenditures totaling $24,240,676.
However, Hagen said the board can expect changes to the budget in the coming months, considering the economic situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.