September 21, 2011

School Board approves $8.3 million budget

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

The McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 school board gave its stamp of approval on a $8,3361,146 budget for the 2011-2012 school year during its meeting on Monday, Sept. 12.
The new budget represents a $910,250 increase from the last year and, according to Steve Holen, district superintendent, reflects the changes the school has had to make to accommodate a growing student population.
“With the growth in the number of elementary school students this year, we had to add additional teachers and aides as well as remodel the elementary school for additional classrooms and purchase more school books,” states Holen.
Overall, the school district added four new teachers to its teaching staff at the elementary school and two new high school teachers.
“Other factors that attribute to the increase in the budget for the upcoming school year is that the district is offering additional classes at the high school and is purchasing seven new school busses,” states Holen.
During Monday’s meeting the school board also approved a 12 percent increase in the mill levy dollars that the district will be requesting to fund the new budget, as well as requesting four mills from taxpayers for the district’s building fund.
“School patrons will see a drop in their mill levy for the school, but overall they will see an increase in their taxes because of the budget,” states Holen. “We saw the school district’s total taxable valuation increase from $12,625,353 to $15,700,000 because of the 40 percent increase in taxable valuations in the county.”
While Holen informed the school board that school district taxpayers will be paying more this year because of the district’s increase in student numbers, the district will also be receiving additional funds from the Dept. of Public Instruction (DPI).
“We now have 709 students enrolled in the district, which is an increase of 126 students from last year,” stated Holen. “Based on that increase, the district will be receiving an additional $492,600 from DPI from a Rapid Enrollment Grant.” The Rapid Enrollment Grant was created to help oil-impacted school districts react to increases in their enrollment.
But even with the increased revenue from taxpayers and the state grant, the district’s revenues will come up $123,000 short of projected expenditures.
According to Holen, just under 53 percent of the district’s receipts comes from state funds, while approximately 18 percent comes from property taxes with the balance coming from oil and gas funds.
During Monday night’s meeting, Holen also informed the board that McKenzie County Public School District is now the fourth largest school district in terms of enrollment of the Class B schools, and that it is possible that the district could be reclassified as a Class A school in the future.
With the district facing the likelihood of increased enrollment in the years ahead, the board also gave Holen permission to seek out professional planning help to study the district’s future building needs.
“If our enrollment growth continues, we need to be thinking about the need for another elementary school or adding a third floor to the high school,” stated Holen. “We need help to configure our growth.”
According to Holen, there have been projections that the district’s current enrollment of 709 students could double, while the maximum number of students that can currently be handled is 450 at the elementary school and 550 at the high school.
In other business, the school board:
• Was updated on the status of completion of the transportation building as well as the elementary school lockers and cabinets, the high school boiler replacement and renovations to the Family Consumer Science room.
• Approved hiring Brenda Mackey as a Special Education Aide, the hiring of Jada Kummer and Debbie Erickson as general classroom aides, and the hiring of Megan Pennington and Michele DeHaven as high school study hall supervisors.
• Approved the Open Enrollment applications for Andrew Sampsel, Kayla McLemore, Garren Smith, Shawn Smith, Steven Smith, Joani Smith, Mandy Smith, Amber Smith and Riley Smith to the district and to approve a Tuition Free agreement for Kinley Botlz to attend the Killdeer School District.
• Approved the letter of resignation from Sherry Lervick as the elementary school principal effective July 1, 2012.
The next meeting of the McKenzie County School District No. 1 school board will be at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 10.