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Auditor reviews report with school board

The school district's 2005-06 audit report was reviewed with the Ellsworth School Board Monday.

Dan Walker of Wipfli, district auditing firm from Eau Claire, raised several issues during the mostly positive report. Walker said the district's financial condition is "liquid," yet told the board to expect more short-term borrowing.

The auditor said a transportation deficiency about recording student bus riders will need to be remedied in the future. He also thought long-time scholarships could be transferred to the relatively new Ellsworth Community School District Foundation without difficulty, unless it was specified they not be when they were originally established.

Walker discussed post-retirement benefits as well, indicating approximately $438,000 was spent on this item last year for those promised them until age 65. This doesn't include such benefits for potential upcoming retirees. A statewide change to become effective in 2009 will affect accounting practices regarding these benefits, he said.

In other business Monday:

--Aaron Nelson and Katie Fuchs, Ellsworth High School juniors, were added to the district's long-range planning committee with board approval. Board Member Paul Solyntjes said committee members examined charge statements at a meeting late last month and received extensive background information about district needs. Superintendent Dan Kaler announced the committee is scheduled to meet again on Monday, Nov. 27, at 7 p.m. in the high school library.

--The hiring of Ann Anderson as director of the Klaas-Jonas Community Swimming Pool, succeeding Nancy Vircks, was approved by the board.

--Instructor Dave Berg, Guidance Counselor Mary Zimmerman and EHS Assistant Principal Barry Cain detailed the APEX (Alternative Program for Educational Excellence) program, now in its third year, for the board. Berg explained APEX is an alternative means for high school students in Ellsworth to earn a diploma. While an alternate path, it's different, but not easier, he said. Several adults have been involved in the program; a total of 26 students have participated since its inception, 10 have graduated, four have been dropped and 12 are presently enrolled.

--Board Member Rick Kornmann reported on a lighting upgrade planned for Ellsworth Middle School, featuring a three-and-a-half to four-year payback, a topic at a recent buildings, grounds and transportation committee meeting. Kornmann also volunteered to join an effort headed by EMS Principal Steve Broton and Ellsworth Police Chief Greg Place to secure funding from the federal highway administration's "Safe Routes to School" program to improve an outdoor path network in the vicinity of Hillcrest Elementary School and the middle school.