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Things looking up for Frazee district

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Financially, things are potentially looking up for the Frazee-Vergas School District.

Superintendent Chuck Cheney reported Tuesday morning that revenues for the 2012-13 year are estimated at $235,000 more, and expenditures are estimated to be down $1.4 million. Enrollment, which helps with the revenue numbers, is also estimated to increase by more than 20 students.

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This will also be the last year of the five-year excess operating levy, which the district will likely be putting back on the ballot this November, asking voters to renew the referendum in some form.

The general fund revenue is projected to increase $235,000 to bring in about $9.2 million. One of the biggest revenue increases comes from the fact that the district is expecting at least 23 more students this year -- from 878 last year to 901 this year.

The expenditure budget -- estimated at $8.3 million in the general fund -- is projected to decrease $1.4 million thanks in part to some major expenditures this year including contract raises, technology expenditures, severance pay for three employees and the superintendent buyout. Also contributing to the savings is the reduction of three positions in the district.

Cheney said with the surplus in funds, the board could look at several options like more technology for students and teachers, improvement to the Gifted and Talented program, a new fitness area and ways to retain more students.

While next year could be an easier cushion for the district, the following year could reverse that.

With the $1 million in referendum collections running out the following year, "we would immediately be deficit spending," Cheney said. "We would not be as financially healthy as we have been."

The district has a referendum committee meeting June 27 at 6 p.m. to discuss the option of putting a referendum on the November ballot.

The board approved the preliminary budget for the 2012-13 year, knowing it can adjust as needed throughout the year.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.

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