More reserves will be needed to balance out school budgetBusiness Manager Steve Culhane told Mitchell school board members Tuesday that more reserve cash will be used to balance district budgets for the coming year.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Business Manager Steve Culhane told Mitchell school board members Tuesday that more reserve cash will be used to balance district budgets for the coming year.
Board President Brenda Freidel, who was out of town on business, participated telephonically and Vice President Theresa Kriese presided over the meeting at Mitchell Technical Institute’s north campus. The briefing was the second in a series of preliminary looks at the 2012-2013 budget.
Culhane said the district will use about $715,000 of its $900,000 in capital outlay reserves to balance next year’s capital outlay budget and will probably end up with roughly a $160,000 fund balance at the end of the 2012-2013 school year. District officials knew going in that it would be a tight year, he said, and the district is exploring funding from bonds and other sources to meet cash needs.
The district also plans to use about $250,000 in reserves next year to balance the special education budget since those needs have also increased, Culhane said.
On a brighter note, early retirements are down, at least temporarily. Only one district employee is taking early retirement, Culhane said.
“We anticipate early retirements will increase in the coming years, when the economy picks up again,” Culhane said.
“In a down economy people hold off; but when things look good they jump at the chance to take early retirement.”
In other budget business, Food Service Director Sean Moen said new federal guidelines will increase school lunch prices by a dime for the upcoming school year.
“With the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act, we’re mandated to raise our school lunch prices 10 cents this year in our program. We don’t have a choice on that.”
Moen expressed concerns that the larger fruit and vegetable portions being required under federal nutrition guidelines may result in higher food costs and more food waste.
“Will kids eat more?” he asked rhetorically.
“I don’t think so, and I think plate waste will go way up, but we’ll be watching that closely every day.”
Moen said the summer lunch program is in full swing at Longfellow Elementary School and he predicted 500-meal days in the upcoming weeks. Under the weekday program, kids 18 and younger eat free.
The board also:
• Discussed but tabled changes to the Mitchell Middle School student handbook.
• Renewed the district’s property and liability insurance for the 2012-2013 school year under the Associated School Boards of South Dakota plan. The premium will be $140,521, which is the same rate as the 2011-2012 school year.
• Renewed the district’s participation in the ASBSD health benefits fund for the coming school year.
• Approved an agreement to renew district participation in the ASBSD workers’ compensation pool. Premiums for the upcoming school year will be $128,822, or 14 percent higher than this year’s rate of $112,781, because of an increase in Mitchell claims and a smaller discount for being in the pool.