School board approves budget for 2017-18 year

Published 10:00 pm Friday, June 23, 2017

The Albert Lea School Board unanimously carried a motion Monday evening to approve a $8.2 million original budget for the coming school year.

Deputy Superintendent Lori Volz presented the budget with highlights. The board, by state statute, needs to approve the original budget before July 1.

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The budget, which is funded based on the number of students the district serves, reflects newly formulated funding approved by the state Legislature.

Updates to the budget include a projected increased enrollment of 62 students in the district. This is an estimated projection based on enrollment forecasting.

The original budget reflects the additional staffing adjusted and realigned for the increased number of students, specifically in the high school.

It outlines a 2 percent increase of revenue in the general education fund, which covers categories such as operations, health and safety and educational expenses — the school district receives a two percent funding bump in each of the next two years for their general per-pupil formula.

Earlier this year, the district purchased a number of ChromeBook laptop computers for student use in the 2017-18 school year; since the funding for the computers was taken out of the 2016-17 school year’s funding, the general fund of the budget needed to be replenished for the upcoming school year. The general fund of the budget now reflects this adjustment in a $475,000 gain in the unassigned portion of the general fund. Volz called this operation a “timing issue.”

The increase is to be set aside for staff development, a segment of the budget that was established in the 2014-2015 budget.

Volz called the increase “one of the most talked about items.”

The Legislature approved a permanent continuation of grants, including the Compensatory Education Pilot grant and also the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten grant, which were included in the original 2017-2018 budget. These grants are now considered “ongoing,” meaning they will not expire.

In the past, the district could not ensure this type of funding would be available for their use. Both grants make ISD 241 more unique in the state. Volz said that only a handful of districts receive these grants.

The food service fund also reflected a projected profit of $85,000 in the original budget.

Volz will bring an amended 2017-2018 budget to the school board in January or February of 2018.

Volz pointed out Monday to the school board that the budget funding is closely aligned with goal numbers. The 2017-18 original budget reflects a 9.6 percent local tax levy. The 2016-17 amended budget reflected a 9.34 percent local tax levy, which was less than the 2015-16 actual budget of 10.17 percent local tax levy on the community.

About Evelyn Seffinga

Evelyn Seffinga covers education and arts and culture for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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