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School board gets early look at '06-'07 budget

An early look at the 2006-07 district budget was given the Ellsworth School Board Monday.

Superintendent Dan Kaler said a correction being made to the preliminary budget will change the total ending fund balance. A figure of $265,481 for the reserved portion must be applied, meaning the balance will be lowered from $2,825,463, as stated in the preliminary budget, to $2,559,982.

Otherwise, Kaler reported an increase in revenues over projections for the past budget, particularly for interest on investments and the School Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) program funding. He also mentioned a decrease in expenditures, which when combined with the revenue increase results in $108,000 to the positive.

The superintendent anticipated an increase in the community service fund from $123,000 to $205,000 because of debt in the district's cost of operating the Klaas-Jonas Community Swimming Pool. The total tax levy for '06-'07 is $6,675,461, an increase of 3.24 percent over the past year. Meanwhile, the mill rate is 8.06, a decrease of 2.54 percent (the district's valuation is expected to rise by around six percent).

Kaler also said declining overall enrollments are foreseen here, 25 districts in the Cooperative Educational Services Agency (CESA)-11 region have greater mill rates than Ellsworth while 12 have lesser such rates, and approximately eight percent has been the average increase in the local district's valuation over a period of recent years.

He emphasized the budget presentation is very preliminary, as the enrollment count won't be official until September and pertinent information from the state won't arrive until October.

The preliminary budget will be presented to the public at the district's annual meeting, set for Monday, Aug. 28, at 7:30 p.m. in the high school cafetorium.

In other business Monday:

--Recreational facilities were discussed during a buildings/grounds/transportation committee report. Board Member Rick Kornmann said an estimate of $70,000 was given for refurbishing the tennis courts at Summit Park when school officials recently met with their village counterparts. The district was asked to help maintain the courts because the majority of their use is by school students. The committee also considered a walking path and sharing library services, plus options for the future of the swimming pool, including making it a summer-only operation, significantly increasing the levy to cover energy expenses or constructing a permanent structure over it to replace the dome.

--The pool's fate was among six goal statements identified by the board for the '06-'07 term. Others were: plan to replace the $250,000 non-recurring referenda to exceed the revenue limit, which will expire in 2008-09; plan for the elementary education program's future by reviewing the work of the 2004-05 elementary configuration committee; develop a plan to obtain resources for maintaining district buildings, grounds, fields, buses, technology and other equipment; have each school develop a plan to improve student performance in select academic areas; and expand the role of the communications committee and increase communications with other local government units.

--The resignations of Karen Schuebel as high school marketing and business teacher, Heidi Dach-Hendrickson as high school ag teacher and Carole Langer as Sunnyside Elementary food service worker were accepted. The hirings of Marci Brunner as high school/middle school English teacher, Jeremy Fisk as high school health teacher and AODA (Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse) Coordinator, Melissa Ferguson and Lindsey Strom as middle school special education aides, and Shelley Schmidt as Sunnyside Elementary special education aide were approved.

--Curriculum Director Leona Johnson announced this year's alternative grant will include a provision to address what's being done for adults who haven't earned a high school diploma. Johnson envisioned a one-time opportunity beginning the second week of the new term for people over age 21 to pursue this under grant funding. Those interested should call the high school guidance department for their credits to be reviewed.

--Following a closed session, the board renewed the superintendent's contract to include a one-year compensation package.