July 28, 2010

School district ends year in the black

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 ended the 2009-2010 school year with a little money left over. That was the good financial news that Steve Holen, district superintendent, was able to share with the school board members during the board’s July 19 meeting. But even though the district showed a $371,322 surplus, according to Holen, the actual carryover would have been $163,161 had the district not had $206,161 in unspent federal stimulus funds on hand.
“We still have one year left to spend those federal stimulus dollars,” stated Holen. “Those funds were a one-time receipt for the district.”
While Holen noted that the district was able to show a carryover this past year, the proposed 2010-2011 district budget past year is showing a $427,000 deficit.
While the board still has a couple of months to finalize its new budget, according to Holen, the proposed budget has the district receiving approximately $6.32 million in revenue with expenditures of $6.753 million.
“We have to budget for all possible expenditures whether or not the board decides to expend the money,” stated Holen.
The majority of last Monday’s meeting was spent wrapping up the business of the 2009-2010 school year and approving projects for funding that would be included in that year’s business.
Projects that are currently in the process of being bid or being worked on include the bidding of a new transportation building, reroofing of the high school, installation of new security cameras and fire alarm system in the high school, installation of new water shut-offs, installation of a new master clock and lights at the high school, technological improvements in the Commons Area and the Media Center, installation of new hand railing at the athletic field, landscaping at the athletic field and the installation of two new air conditioning compressors.
During Monday night’s meeting, Supt. Holen also informed the board that he had completed a salary survey comparing the district’s ancillary staff’s salary with 25 other school districts in the state as well as a comparison with private businesses.
According to Holen, over the past 12 years, the salary increases that the ancillary staff has received has been very comparable to the salary increases the district has given to its professional staff.
“What we found in going back the past 12 years is that ancillary staff salaries have increased 50 to 75 percent depending on the position,” stated Holen. “As a whole, the ancillary staff salaries averaged annual increases of three to four percent over the past 12 years, while teacher salaries increased an average of 3.9 percent over the same period.”
“Over time, I think that we have done a very good job of compensating our staff, whether it is ancillary or professional,” stated Holen.
Holen noted that the survey that he had conducted of the the district’s ancillary staff to the 25 other similar sized or western North Dakota school districts showed that in all categories, McKenzie County Public School Disrict No. 1’s ancillary staff salaries were above the state average.
“We may not be the top paying district for ancillary staff positions,” stated Holen. “But we are in the top five of the 25 schools that I surveyed. Based on that, I don’t think we need to make any adjustments right now.
In a non-related issue, the board took no action on hiring Debbie Rolfsrud as the C-squad volleyball position.
“Debbie has worked for us before,” stated Kelly Norby, board president. “She left the district in a very tense situation. It involved her and her daughter, and how it impacted the team and the community. I don’t know what the answer is here. I have no problem as Debbie knows the game of volleyball.”
In other business, the board:
• Approved increasing the groundskeeper/transportation assistant position to a full-time position with associated full-time benefits.
• Approved hiring Angie Moe as the head high school secretary at $14.90 per hour and was informed that the district hopes to fill the assistant secretary position shortly.
• Approved hiring Barb Johnson as a school bus driver at $13.95 per hour for five hours per day.
• Approved hiring Kelli Taylor as the head coach for girls golf.
• Approved hiring Jen McGorman as the junior high volleyball coach.
• Was informed by Superintendent Holen of the district’s school improvement process.
• Approved the district’s average daily membership from 525.18 to 543.63.
• Approved a tuition-free agreement with Mandaree Public School District for Lisa Redmond.
• Was informed by Superintendent Holen that a 3-class proposal is again being considered for high school basketball and volleyball, and that in 2011-2012 a shot clock would be used in boys and girls basketball games.
• Approved the new high school student handbook.
• Elected Kelly Norby and Pam Ramage as school board president and vice president, respectively.
• Approved Steve Holen as the district’s authorized representative for federal funds.
• Approved the McKenzie County Farmer as the official newspaper for the school district for the 2010-2011 school year.
• Approved hiring the McKennett Law Firm as the district’s legal counsel for the 2010-2011 school year.
• Set the date for the next school board meeting for 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 9.