Shifting LTFM money discussed

By Barbie Porter


The Frazee-Vergas School District Superintendent Terry Karger said the budget that will be presented to the full board at its March meeting should be “pretty accurate.” He noted the district recently settled with two major union contracts.

The school budget is largely based on enrollment, as each student equates to funding. Karger explained enrollment is declining. Enrollment numbers showed 440 students in the elementary, compared to 445 last year. At the high school this year there are 405 students, whereas last year there were 226.

The projected enrollment made early in the school year is “conservative,” Karger said. He added, the current enrollment has fallen below the projected number.

School board members Tyler Trieglaff and Nathan Matejka are part of the Budget and Facilities Committee. Trieglaff asked if other districts are experiencing similar declines due to less school-age children.

Matejka asked if students were leaving to go to a neighboring district.

Karger said that some students transfer to other districts, while others move to another town. He added the school is not drawing many students from neighboring districts.

Even with declining numbers, the district will bring aboard a new kindergarten teacher for the remainder of the school year, and for next year. Karger noted the teaching position is being paid for through COVID-19 relief funding, also known as ESSER funds.

On the other hand, Karger also said the district will be reviewing potential reductions to match enrollment needs. He added at the high school data is being reviewed in regards to elective classes that have little to no interest from the students.

The budget is also being looked at in other areas, such as athletic uniforms. The school district has each activity on a rotation to receive new jerseys. Karger discussed freezing that process for a year with Activities Director Nick Courneya

“The uniforms are OK, so we can push all that one year and then pick it up again,” Karger said, adding the move would free up an additional $10,000 to $12,000 in spending.

Terry Karger, Frazee-Vergas School District Superintendent

There may also be a change to curriculum spending, should the school board approve. Karger explained the science standards changed, shifting earth science from one grade to another. The different grade level required for some age-appropriate materials to be purchased to enhance the text already in use. The change in science curriculum was made at the state level. Therefore, the district needs unexpected purchases for curriculum before next school year. That means the personnel services, which were slated to receive new materials, will be pushed back a year.

The committee also reviewed the school district’s Long Term Facility Maintenance Plan. Karger explained playground equipment at the early childhood wing was reportedly marked to be removed as is in disrepair.  Karger said in the past the early childhood program purchased the equipment. However, for insurance purposes, the school district is recommended to take ownership of it. In addition to new playground swings and so forth, Karger envisions a handicapped accessible surface, instead of the pea rock gravel currently in place.

The indoor air quality project at the high school reportedly came in $87,524 over budget. To cover the cost Karger said the school used bonded money from Long-Term Facility Maintenance. Now, he is proposing the board consider pulling the funds from the general Long-Term Facility Maintenance fund instead. The $87,524 from the bond could be dedicated to an outside project instead. The outside project was not defined.

He did mention soffits are sagging at the elementary school and it may be advantageous to have the work done while a general contractor is on-site for upcoming projects. Karger also noted there are brick areas that need painting on the school building as well as doors and frames that need replacing.

Another potential project for down the line had to do with a concession area. Karger said the current area is small and limits options. 

In the hall next to the gym there is an unused classroom. The idea is to use the space for an expanded concession area, as a large window could be installed.

If the project proceeded, the current concession stand could be used for a showcase of gear sold at the Hornet Zone.