Declining general fund discussed

By Barbie Porter


The Frazee-Vergas School Board approved its budget for the fiscal year 2022. The projected budget would see the preliminary fund balance decrease from $3.37 million to $2.03 million by June 2022.

Measures the board has taken to reduce the deficit spending has included reducing capital outlay expenditures and 3.5 full-time equivalent positions. The positions included a teacher in kindergarten, first grade and elementary internationalist and .5 music teacher.

The preliminary budget does not include any projects the board has approved, such as the parking lot work, track  and so forth. It also accounts for no salary increase to the schedule.

Superintendent Terry Karger said discussions were had by legislatures about districts taking financial losses during the pandemic. The financial revenues seeing a decline included less funds from compensatory aid and enrollment. 

He explained compensatory aid loss was due to less parents filling out free and reduced lunch applications, as student meals have been paid for by the state. Karger said the state will likely pick up the tab again next year.

Another factor changing the projected budget was enrollment. It was noted the projection is now 839 students for next year, but that often changes and is hard to estimate. The decrease was seen mostly with the number of seniors that graduated outnumbering the amount of incoming kindergartners by 17.

Karger said he is hoping the second round of COVID-19 relief funds, known as ESSER, will help offset some budgetary gaps for 2022.

One board member expressed concern the budget was deficit spending by  such a large sum. 

The district’s  Business Manager Chrissy Clapsaddle said she hopes the district gets funding back to normal with enrollment and compensatory aid, as that would help. It was stated compensatory aid decreased by about $150,000.

Another hit to finances  mentioned before were the expenses to food service and community education. The district has offered classes, such as drivers education, latch key and summer rec, as well as school readiness programs. The aim has been to keep the costs to parents low. However, the district is taking a loss and may need to consider raising rates to get closer to breaking even.

Karger said the budget was conservatively built. He noted that he and the business office will be “very diligent to get every nickle out of the ESSER money.”

The district policy requires a fund balance to be maintained between $60,000 and $80,000, Karger said. And while the fund balance is declining faster than he likes to see, they are maintaining the required reserves in the fund balance.

Another board member asked Karger if anything else could be cut, within reason.

He stated, at this time he believed the district was doing what was right and what he was comfortable with.

The board approved the budget.