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Brainerd School Board: Finance committee recommends reduction in athletic fees

Parents of athletes at Brainerd High School can hope to see a little relief in their wallets with the Brainerd School Board Finance Committee’s recommendation to the board to move ahead with proposed activity fees that would drop costs by $75 or $100 in some areas of athletic programs.

“As a school board, we have talked about and recognized that we have the highest fee schedule in our conference and are in the top three in the state,” said Steve Lund, director of business services. “So after reviewing different scenarios we came up with a proposal that would help reduce some of those costs and allow Warrior Way to continue on through (Spring) of 2014.”

Currently split in to three Tiers of cost at BHS with Tier 1 paying $250, Tier 2 paying $350 and Tier 3 paying $425, Lund said the proposal will essentially create a two Tier structure by focusing on fee reductions in Tiers 2 and 3. The proposed plan would drop Tier 2 from $350 to $250 and Tier 3 from $425 to $350.

“Based on those numbers, our fee revenue would be reduced by approximately $75,000,” said Lund. “And it impacts our gross amount from Warrior Way by a reduction draw of $30,000 which will ensure continuation of the Warrior Way funds, based on estimates, by about two years.”

Committee member Tom Haglin said that while reducing the costs for the next two years is a good thing, he would prefer to look at costs for athletic fees in the long-term as opposed to short-term.

“One of our strategic goals was to come up with a plan that would yield knowing Warrior Way funds were eliminated,” said Haglin. “I see this reduction of fees for two years and it doesn’t address a long-term plan for when those fees do eventually run out.

“I’d prefer to look at the big picture, especially with the potential of increasing fees in the future, and that’s where I struggle with supporting this.”

Despite hesitation by Haglin, committee members Ruth Nelson and chairman Reed Campbell approved the recommendations with Haglin voting against.

The committee will bring up their approval of changes to the school board during it’s regular scheduled meeting Monday.

In other business the finance committee discussed the 2012-13 preliminary budget. Lund said this is just the first step in many for preparing for next school year’s financial year, setting a preliminary budget for 2012-13 at $70,520,587 with a $412,906 deficit.

“In broad terms,” said Lund, “the fiscal year 2013 budget includes: Trend of declining enrollment, additional revenue of $200 per student operating levy, run-out of the final component of stimulus funding, increase in funding from basic aid and literacy aid from the state of Minnesota, net reductions plan of $500,000. The budget yields a net increase in revenues of 1.92 percent and an increase in net expenses of 1.94 percent and increased employee costs.”

Lund said that since the current 2011-2012 budget forecast has revenue at $68,785,652 and expenses at $69,177,872, it is producing a $392,220 operating deficit. The closely matched increase to both revenue and expenses for next year will continue the operating deficit at nearly the same amount.

JESSI PIERCE, staff writer, may be reached at 855-5859 or Follow her on Twitter at (@jessi_pierce).