Waconia School Board approves budgets

Budgets were among the top agenda items for the Waconia School Board during its most recent meeting, which was held on Monday, June 10.
After listening to a presentation by Finance Director Todd Swanson, the board approved two general fund budgets, one being the 2012-13 Revised Budget and the other being the Preliminary Budget for 2013-14.
The 2012-13 Revised Budget started with a fund balance of $6,236,749 on July 1, 2012. Accounting for total revenues of $29,667,565 and total expenditures of $30,778,334, the budget’s fund balance as of June 30, 2013 is projected to be $5,125,980, which represents a decrease of about $1.1 million. As explained by Swanson, the decrease in the fund balance is mainly related to an intentional, planned spend-down of a portion of the fund balance.
“These dollars were built up during the time of federal stimulus,” Swanson said. “The school district is not a bank; its purpose is to invest in kids. We had a little windfall and it felt like it was the proper time to invest that into needed programs for the students. We’ll still have a healthy fund balance at the end of it.”
In 2012-13, the district completed a technology study and adopted a plan to implement a number of technology investments during the year. Those improvements included:
• Invest in wireless backbone for all district buildings ($250,000)
• Replace current laptops with Macs at elementary schools ($76,000)
• Invest in iPads for the high school biology courses ($140,000), a Project Lead The Way lab for the high school ($50,000), and in mobile carts at Clearwater for two labs ($10,000)
• Replace desktop devices older than seven years ($60,000)
• Mobile device management software ($30,000)
Swanson noted that the total technology related purchases from these improvements amounts to $616,000 or approximately 56 percent of the expenditure deficit. Another 34 percent of the expenditure deficit is related to $375,000 in Special Education Excess Cost Revenue, which is expected to be received but, per board policy, has not been budgeted due to the unpredictable nature of the revenue source.
The 2013-14 Preliminary Budget begins July 1, 2013 and includes $30,846,070 in total revenue and $31,178,050 in total expenditures, meaning the $5,125,980 fund balance is projected to be $4,794,000 by next June 30, 2014. The decrease is directly linked to the planned spend-down of a portion of the fund balance through technology investments that started in 2012-13. In 2013-14, the district’s technology improvements include:
• Invest in iPads for all four school buildings ($186,000), mobile labs at Clearwater and the high school ($76,000), and projection units ($48,000)
• Replace desktop devices older than seven years ($40,000)
• Update switches for high speed internet access ($80,000)
The total technology related purchases equates to more than 100 percent of the projected deficit.
In terms of capital improvements slated for 2013-14, the district has planned several larger projects, including roof replacement and tuck pointing at Bayview ($100,000) and roof replacement at the high school (this $475,000 project has actually already started and is expected to be completed this month; as a result, it is included in the budget for the 2012-13 school year).
Other projects include:
• Sealcoating parking lots at various district buildings ($90,000)
• Athletic field improvements ($25,000)
• Resurface and expand high jump area at Bayview ($30,000)
• Textbook purchases ($250,000) and equipment purchases ($130,000) at all district school sites
The operating capital program budget for the FY 2013-14 shows revenue of $1,702,060 and expenses of $1,756,318. The fund balance is projected to be $1,427,799 on June 30, 2014.
For more information about the budgets, visit the district office.
In other matters:
• The board held a closed session on June 4 to conduct the superintendent review for Superintendent Dr. Nancy Rajanen regarding the 2012-13 school year. The board evaluated Rajanen in four areas: communication, labor relations, instructional leadership, and future planning. The board gave Rajanen a favorable review. As summarized by Board Chairman Brian Rothstein, the board felt Rajanen had met or exceeded expectations in all four categories. The board will now start formulating superintendent goals for the coming school year.
• Enrollment continues to grow for ISD 110. The enrollment as of June 3, 2013 was 3,562 students, which is 47 students more than the 3,515 that the district budgeted for enrollment. Officials anticipate that the district will grow by 94 students next year. Swanson noted that the last school year that Waconia saw a decrease in enrollment was 1991-92, when the district lost 12 students.
• The district’s operating levy is up for renewal this year. The district will not have to go to the voters to renew this levy, which the board is expected to renew in August. Officials are waiting to learn how this session’s legislative action regarding education funding will be interpreted before details regarding the levy are finalized.
• The District 110 Foundation is hoping to get the Waconia Alumni Association active again. One possible event is an all-class reunion that would be held around Nickle Dickle Day this September.
• The board approved a lease purchase agreement with Apple Inc. that results in the district receiving 900 additional iPads. At the end of the three-year $360,000 agreement, the district will own the devices. With this move, the district increases the number of iPads it has to approximately 1,300 devices.
The new iPads will be assigned to sophomores and juniors at the high school, eighth graders at Clearwater, and fourth graders at the elementary schools next year.
• The board’s next meeting will be held at the ESC at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 22. Normally, the meeting would be held on Monday, July 8 but officials want to wait for additional information to become available regarding education-related legislation from this year’s session before holding the meeting.

Contact Todd Moen at todd.moen@ecm-inc.com

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