Pine River-Backus School District: Board approves revised budget

Budget revision sees approximately 1 % change in both revenues and expenses

PineandLakes Echo Journal file photo (Feb. 2020).

The Pine River-Backus School Board approved a revised budget at its Monday, March 15, regular meeting. The revised budget shows a 1.1% ($137,307) increase in revenues and a .9 % ($118,947) increase in expenses.


The budget packet presented at the meeting showed both increases and decreases in various areas. General revenues saw a 2.5% increase ($251.216). Debt service also saw an increase of 1.1% ($6,473) though there were decreases, including an 8.7% ($46,673) decrease in food service, a 3.9% ($32,435) decrease in transportation and a 12% ($41,274) decrease in community education.

The preliminary budget recorded $12,660,543 for a total in revenues. The revised budget changed that amount to $12,797,850. This amounts to a 1.1% increase, or $137,307.

The report Business Manager Jolene Bengtson prepared said decreases in the general fund, which represented the greatest change to revenues, were tied to interest rate decreases, decrease in athletic activities and sports fees, and state revenues, as well as a decrease in enrollment as some parents opted to homeschool their students.


The preliminary budget anticipated 465 elementary students and 417 high school students; however, the district enrollment has dropped to 424 elementary students and 399 high school students.

Federal revenues represented the lion's share of the positive adjustments to the general fund. Changes to the Title and Carl Perkins along with coronavirus aid added $503,540 while an increase in ALC enrollment also increased the revenues for that line item by $42,268.


Expenses were also higher in the revised budget. Once again the largest change was in the general fund with a 2.9% ($290,978) increase. All the other funds saw a decrease in expenses except for building construction and trust/scholarships, which saw no change at all.

Food service had a 14.3% ($80,100) decrease. Transportation had a .2% decrease ($1,888). Community education saw a 17.5% ($65,404) decrease. Operating capital expenses were reduced by 5.4% ($22,997). Debt service dropped by .3% ($1,642).

The general fund also represented the greatest change to expenses. Much of that increase is connected to coronavirus mitigation efforts, including sanitation and purchase of Chromebooks to enable all students to work from home.

Some of these expenses were offset by Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding. Decreases in several line items were also tied to coronavirus mitigation efforts. With students working from home for much of the year, the district saw a decrease in food service, transportation, community education and operating capital, though once again, the increase in general fund expenses represented the largest change overall.

In other business Monday, the board:


  • Accepted resignation of paraprofessional Jocelyn Mehrman.
  • Approved hiring Nancy Sandeen as family and consumer science teacher.
  • Approved hiring coaches, including John Riewer for varsity softball, Mike Dinnel for varsity baseball, Ben Kinser as assistant baseball coach, Tom DeMars for varsity boys track, Tim Ramler for varsity girls track, Justin Franke as assistant track coach, Steve Heslop as boys golf coach and Mark Gonnion as girls golf coach.
  • Approved hiring Katie Verschelde as prom adviser, Jennifer Anderson as drama adviser, Kate Davis as vocal coach and Ben Kinser as pit orchestra director.
  • Agreed to a 1% increase to Superintendent Jonathan Clark's salary starting next year.
  • Approved a contract with Hy-Tec Construction of Brainerd for construction of an athletic concession and restroom building.

Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at

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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