Mitchell school board audit earns highest ratingFinancials show no weaknesses or deficiencies for 2011.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
The Mitchell school board received an early Christmas present in the form of a clean audit during its Monday night meeting at Mitchell High School.
Jay Tolsma, of the Mitchell accounting firm of Endorf, Lurken & Olsen, gave the district’s financials an unqualified opinion, the highest rating. The financials, he said, show no material weaknesses or deficiencies for fiscal year 2011, which ended June 30.
The report presented by Tolsma is a draft report which must get its final stamp of approval from the state Department of Legislative Audit.
District business manager Steve Culhane said the report is the 10th in a string of clean audits received by the district. The audit is especially notable, he said, considering the additional stringent reporting requirements that come with federal grants.
“It’s a compliment to the people in the business office and Mitchell Technical Institute chief financial officer Mike Hoffman,” Culhane said.
Taxpayers can be assured that the school district is in solid financial condition, he said, but more funding per student is needed.
In his report to the board, Superintendent Joe Graves said the state is planning to loosen the purse strings next year, but not by much.
“Last year, we originally received an 8.8 percent cut,” Graves said. “Governor Daugaard and the Legislature found one-time money to drop that cut to 6.6 percent.”
But that was one-time money, he said, which does not cover ongoing expenses.
The 2.3 percent increase in permanent funding proposed by Daugaard during last week’s budget address will replace that one-time increase, giving the district an increase of only $90,000 next year, Graves said.
“It’s not a lot, but it’s certainly better than a kick in the pants and better than last year,” he said with a smile.
“It’s not a huge increase,” Graves said. “It’s a moderate amount and we’ll try to our best with it, but its not going to answer all the budgetary dilemmas we find ourselves in.”
Culhane said the funding prior to this year’s budget cut was slightly more than $4,800 per student and next year the funding per student will be about $4,500.
“We still have a long way to go before we make up where we were at,” he said.
The board also:
• Approved a request to approve a technical prep grant supplemental budget for Mitchell Technical Institute in the amount of $30,000. The item includes $19,000 for salaries and benefits; $600 for purchases and services; $4,400 for travel; and $6,000 for supplies.
• Accepted the resignation of Robin Weins, part-time food service, L.B. Williams Elementary School, effective Dec. 22.
• Approved non-certified salaries for Bobbie Schelske, computer network specialist, $28,771 a year; Wayne Hjellum, computer network specialist, $27,000 a year: Levi Hohn, information system technician, $42,754 a year; Mark Moore, network systems technician, $37,828 a year; Sharon Max, employee services, $36,500 a year; Mary Crockett, school nurse, $18.50 an hour; Nicole Hohn, school nurse, $17.40 an hour and Anita Sutherland, school nurse, $17.90 an hour.
• Approved these new hires: Paul Dorn, instructor, Huron community campus, $16,000, from Jan. 1 to June 30, effective Jan. 1; Alyson Palmer, K – 5 art, Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary School, onehalf day a week, for a total of $2,142 for the remainder of the year, effective Nov. 21; Denise Walton, paraeducator, Mitchell Middle School, 7 1/2 hours a day at $9.83 an hour, effective Nov. 14.
• Approved a reduction of hours for Marvin Koster, full-time maintenance to part-time maintenance, effective Dec. 31.
• Accepted the distribution of documents on an evaluation of the superintendent and board self-evaluation. Forms must be returned to President Brenda Freidel by Jan. 3 and evaluations will be conducted at the Jan. 9 school board meeting.
• Accepted reports from school board members, including:
Freidel asked board members to consider running for a four-year term on South Dakota Retirement System board of trustees.
Theresa Kriese, a member of the Medical Assistant Advisory Committee at MTI, said there’s concern that students graduating from the program are receiving lower wages in South Dakota compared to other states.
“It’s about getting the South Dakota medical community to value those services,” she said.
Dana Price said MTI’s Architectural and Building program is strong. The program now has two instructors able to certify students in green energy applications, which should be in high demand in the future. The program placed 100 percent of its recent graduates, he said, and it now has 22 second-year and 18 first-year students.
Eric Christensen said he attended the Nov. 15 Workforce Summit in Mitchell, which highlighted the importance of MTI and state’s other technical schools and it also validated plans for the district’s new Career and Technical Education Center, which is in the planning stages. The CTE center will be located in the present MTI north campus once MTI moves all programs to its south campus.
The state is in dire need of employees and the Workforce Summit helped to prove the need that is out there for trained employees, he said.
Board members toured the high school with Principal Yvonne Palli following the business portion of the meeting.