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Committee approves second revision of Brainerd school budget

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Committee approves second revision of Brainerd school budget
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

The projected deficit of the current Brainerd School District budget improved by about $50,000.

“It’s not a significant amount, but it’s important to set that base in trying to plan what could change for next year. We use that information to start building next year’s budget,” said Steve Lund, director of Business Services for the district.

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At a Finance Committee meeting Tuesday, the group approved the second revision to the current year’s budget. The recommendation will go before the full school board for final approval.

The second revision, which school officials said was typical of each school year budget, helps school leaders better project what items to change for the next year’s budget, or what to keep the same.

With the school year almost over, there is a revenue increase of $648,539. The expense increase is at $591,023.

A key factor in the revenue increase is the special education funds from the state.

For expenses, major increases are attributed to PSEO with an additional $170,000, an additional $50,000 for utilities, and special education transportation at another $159,000.

One “concerning” increase, Lund said, came in the sub custodial staff budget line. Custodial staffing levels were reduced recently, and to make up for that need, officials have had to dip into the sub fund.

The revised fiscal 2014 budget deficit now sits at $1,095,883. At the first budget revision, the 2014 deficit was projected to be $1,153,399

Another “very concerning” area comes with food service. Officials recently cut staff by 10 percent to fix a deficit, but the district is still seeing a decline in participation of the meal program.

The drop in participation has a lot to do with students not liking the new, state-required meal choices and guidelines, said Superintendent Steve Razidlo.

Looking forward to the 2014/15 school year, the projected deficit is sitting around $966,000, Lund said.

In other committee news:

The committee discussed an idea recommended by administration to add a total of three math, science and language arts teachers at Forestview Middle School. If hired, the three teachers would be able to switch between the seventh- and eighth-grade classrooms.

The move would better level out class sizes in the upper middle school level, Razidlo said.

The committee agreed smaller class sizes is the ultimate goal, but the price tag is what held up them up Tuesday. The estimated cost for the three new teachers would be about $180,000.

“Each time we say yes to an expense, it has to come from another place,” said school board member Tom Haglin.

Both Haglin and school board member Sue Kern said they agreed the three extra teachers in the middle school would be a good idea but both wanted to look what other possibilities there are in shifting other district staff around to fill the positions.

Reed Campbell made a motion to go with hiring three new teachers as requested by district administration, but it failed due to lack of a second.

Instead, the committee agreed staff should look at the idea of shifting teachers from the high school over to the middle school.

Razidlo said he would look at what that would do to class sizes at the high school and bring those numbers back to the committee at a future meeting for discussion.

JESSIE PERRINE may be reached at jessie.perrine@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/brainerdnews.

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