By Barbie Porter
The Frazee-Vergas School District is spending from its reserves to cover costs, even with a revised budget for the 2020-2021 school year.
District Business Manager Chrissy Clapsaddle said revenues increased due to COVID-19 funding, but in turn expenditures followed suit.
Frazee-Vergas Superintendent Terry Karger said the goal is to further reduce the deficit spending.
Karger explained on major factor to changes in the budget revenue has to do with enrollment. He said the last four years the district has seen a decline in its student population. On Oct. 1, 2017, the district had 927 students. Enrollment has now dropped to 876. Karger explained each student brings in revenue, and as the number declines the revenue does as well.
The district tried to increase revenues by getting more parents to fill out free and reduced applications. The more families qualified for the program, the more funding the district gets.
The district provided an incentive to those that filled out an application, regardless if they qualified for the program. The incentive was waiving fees for events and participation fees for activities.
The concept started last year and was offered again this year, but Karger said the plan didn’t work as expected, and revenue was lost (due to waiving fees). After hearing explanations as to why the school is spending more than generated revenues, the board approved the revised budget, which stated the following:
• The food service account started the year with $40,202. Revenues are expected to add $502,600, while expenditures are projected to cost $562,635. That means the food service is spending $60,035 more than it is bringing in with revenues. With the additional funds from the starting balance, the projected year end balance of the food service fund is $19,833.
• The community education program (which includes ECFE) is projected to end the school’s fiscal year with a deficit of $73,624.
Community Ed. started the year in the red ($18,123) and is projected to have a $55,501 deficit to put the program in the red by $73,634.
It was noted the Perham reimbursement for costs utilizing the district’s program organizer was included in the budget, which stated to have revenues projected at $330,940 and expenditures totalling $386,441.
• The general fund had a balance of $3.85 million on June 30, 2020 and the balance is projected to drop $567,351 to $3.3 million by June 30, 2021.
The district construction fund started the year with a $3.18 million budget and is projected to have an ending fund balance of $105,395 by June 30, 2021.
• For the current school year, total revenues were anticipated to be $12.96 million and expenses, $16.75 million, creating an over expenditures of about $3.88 million. Those funds will be pulled from the reserves, which totaled $7.17 million, thus reducing the projected fund balance at the end of the school year to $3.37 million.
impact of MCA tests
on school funding
Frazee Elementary Principal Travis Nagel informed the board there may be changes to the MCA testing due to COVID-19 disruptions of classroom instruction. He said government is making changes so not as much weight is put on the student’s MCA score, which typically impacts school funding.
Frazee High School Principal Anna Potvin reported the students recently returned to learn in the classroom full time.
The school started with a hybrid model where one group learned in the classroom two days a week and the other at home, then vice versa. For awhile the district shifted to full distant learning as well.
Potvin applauded the staff, stating they have been willing to step up and help out as needed, with students and other staff as well.
“We’ve learned a lot from all of this,” she said.
Teachers, administration defines district goals
Karger discussed the World’s Best Workforce document, noting due to the pandemic many of the goals have remained the same as last year.
The goals were as follows:
• Student success/integration aims to improve understanding of cultural differences, maintain full participating in the sixth grade career and college readiness program, granting applicants from diverse backgrounds interviews for open positions and increase required knowledge in math and reading to 90 percent, from 88 percent.
• Native American Club goals are separated into federally funded, and state funded.
The federally funded goals include decreasing the proficiency gap in reading and math to 8 percent between Native American and non-Native students. The gap is currently at 9 percent. The second goal for the Native American Club include increasing content into curriculum regarding the culture and history of the Native people, with assistance from instructors. The third goal is to increase knowledge of cultural identify and awareness in students.
For state funded goals, the aim is to improve scores of third graders on the annual reading assessment, ensure juniors take the ACT test and maintain a composite score for those students at 18.
• The pre-kindergarten class goals are to have a majority of the kids in those programs score average or higher in individual scoring.
• Grade specific goals included having all kindergartners through third graders be at or above grade level before moving on to the next grade. Both schools also have a goal to have all students meet or exceed state proficiency averages on the MCA tests in math, reading and science.
• Graduation goals are to maintain 95 percent of the student body earning their diploma, while the high school also wants to ensure all graduating students have the opportunity for secondary education with sub scores on the ACT that meet or exceed the state average.
• Extra-curricular aims to have 75 percent of students in grades 7-12 participate in at least one extra curricular activity; athletics or fine arts and have at least half the students at the high school participate in multiple activities.
• The elementary is also implementing an e-learning platform to meet the needs of students. The high school is working to align summative assessments to required knowledge in all subjects by the end of the school year.
In other news
• The board approved hiring former elementary paraprofessional Cindy Wischnak as the elementary administrative assistant. She was on of 13 applicants for the position, of which four were interviewed. Wischnak will manage the front office at the elementary school and assist the principal in day-to-day operations. She will be paid $16.40 an hour.
Earning $25 an hour will be weight room supervisors Jason Bauer and John Barlund. Both applied for the supervisor position and the board hired them both. Only one will supervise at a time.
With no compensation, Carrie Roble was named the FACT advisor. FACT consists of a group of Frazee students who fundraise and take a trip to New York City. The board also approved allowing Stacey Schwendeman be an assistant volunteer with fundraising and organizing the trip.
Taylor Tappe was hired as junior high softball coach. She was the sole applicant for the position and will be paid a season stipend of $2,237.
The board also approved the resignation of Lisa Peterson, the long-time high school Family and Consumer Science teacher. She will conclude her time with the district at the end of the current school year.
• Approved fundraising request for MN Honor Society for an overnight service field trip in April.