The Mitchell Board of Education got its first look at the 2021-22 school year budget at its most recent meeting, and saw an increase coming for the district general fund and a lower capital outlay fund thanks to less need for technology upgrades in the coming year.

The meeting took place Monday evening in a virtual format.

Steve Culhane, business manager for the Mitchell School District, presented the board with a budget containing a general fund of $19,947,406 and a capital outlay budget of $4,572,770. That is an increase in the general fund and a decrease in capital outlay from 2020-21, which came in at $19,718,176 and $6,459,552, respectively.

Culhane said that the increase in the general fund is due to the loss of some long-time employees as well as an increase in the state per-student allotment for education funding.

“All negotiations have been completed and all salary increases that will be entered are in the process of being entered. The state aid for education increased by 2.4% for the upcoming school year. That is included in this budget and we will fine tune that over the next couple of weeks,” Culhane told the board Monday.

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He also noted that the capital outlay budget is smaller due to the lack of need for new technology purchases as well as a reduction in debt payments due to the refinancing of the PAC capital outlay certificates.

More funds should be coming in the upcoming years due through federal sources, Culhane said.

“Over the next two years, we will see significant dollars coming in from the federal government for pandemic reasons to assist schools,” Culhane said.

The fund balance in the capital outlay budget sits at about $3.6 million, and the district aims to continue to build that to help construct a new high school building in the future. That process is going well, Culhane said.

“We’re meeting those goals and exceeding those goals in capital outlay,” Culhane said.

In the special education budget, the district would see a total of $5,113,358, another substantial increase over the previous year at $4,698,824.

“There is an increase in expenses in this budget due to an increase in the number of students who are placed outside our district. It appears that the increase in state aid will help us avoid the use of extraordinary cost funds for next year’s budget,” Culhane said.

The budget for the MCTEA Fund, which covers programs that Mitchell Technical College teaches to Mitchell High School students, will come in at $422,346. That’s up slightly from $405,380 last year.

In food service, the budget will come in at $2,086,469, down slightly from $2,172,550. Revenue from the fund is expected to drop but federal reimbursement is expected to increase due to COVID-19 pandemic policies.

“The most significant change in the program is the continuation of all school meals being free to all students for another school year. This is why you see the significant reduction in student revenue, but huge increase in federal reimbursement,” Culhane said. “We continue to be self-sufficient as our retained earnings are slightly increasing but we are always updating our equipment needs on a yearly basis.”

For Mitchell Technical College, a budget of $23,7238,940 has been listed for the 2021-22 school year. That’s an increase of 7.92% over the previous year’s budget of $21,988,128.

That increase stems from a projected increase in enrollment at the technical college next year, said Jared Hofer, chief financial officer for Mitchell Technical College.

“That is primarily driven by a projected increase in enrollment next year,” Hofer told the board.

Other factors include the state allowing an increase of $3 per credit hour in tuition as well as a new program that will allow the state to pick up two-thirds of the cost for some equipment in academic programs.

“There are several good things that impacted the school there,” Hofer said.

More information and review on the 2021-22 budget is expected at upcoming meetings of the board. The board is expected to finalize the proposed budget in July.

The proposed budget can be found in the May 10 meeting agenda, available at the Board Book link at www.themitchellkernels.com/ under the School Board tab.

Masks

Joe Graves, superintendent for the Mitchell School District, said that current plans have the Mitchell Board of Education meeting in person for its next meeting, currently scheduled for May 24 at the MCTEA commons area. He said since school will be out of session at that time, the meeting will be masks-optional, though social distancing will continue to be encouraged.

A question from the audience during the public commentary portion of the meeting asked Graves if masks would be optional for the upcoming school year. Graves said current plans for next school year are that masks would no longer be mandated, but allowed, and social distancing efforts would continue.

“The plan for next year is no mask requirement. That’s not a final decision, as we’ve seen things change, but the intent right now is to start the 2021-22 school year with no mandate,” Graves said.

He said the district is looking at procedures for activities on school grounds during the summer.

Personnel

Also at the meeting, the board approved the following personnel moves:

  • The new certified hire of Rayann Larson, 7th/8th math teacher, $45,787, effective 2021-22 school year

  • The 6th class assignments of Riley Berggren, both semesters (biology); Ken VanOverschelde, one semester (civics); Christina Siemsen, one semester (geography); Danise Hoffman, both semesters (personal finance); Bruce Mastel, both semesters (physical science) and Kaitlyn Huska, one semesters (psychology). All assignments effective 2021-22 school year.

  • The resignations of Sarah Bartunek, paraeducator at L.B. Williams and Kirk Hanson, food service worker. All resignations effective 2021-22 school year.

  • The MTC new hires of Erin Yost, farm business management (FBM) instructor, $10,398, through July 31, 2021, effective June 1; Erika Hennessey, temp hire, financial aid, $13.50, effective May 12.

Other business

Also at the meeting, the board:

  • Approved a tentative agreement with the Mitchell Classified Education Association.

  • Reviewed K-12 board policies 700-900 on first reading.

  • Heard board member reports.

  • Heard superintendent report.

  • Heard public commentary.

The next meeting of the Mitchell Board of Education is scheduled to take place May 24 at 5 p.m.