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Lake Park-Audubon board looks at balanced budget

The Lake Park-Audubon School Board approved a preliminary 2007-08 revenue and expenditure budget of just under $6 million at its Monday board meeting.

With projected revenues of $5,988,941, and expenditures of $5,991,592 -- a difference of approximately $2,600 -- the budget for the coming year is essentially balanced , according to LP-A Superintendent Dale Hogie.

Anticipating some fallout from this spring's failed building bond referendum, the administrative staff put together a revenue budget built around a projected K-12 enrollment decrease of 15 students, Hogie added.

"Since we've been working on the building bond referendum, our open enrollment numbers (students enrolling in neighboring districts) have increased each year... I'm expecting that (an enrollment decrease) this year too," Hogie said in a Tuesday interview.

In addition, the LP-A district will be receiving about $38,000 less revenue from the Becker County Children's Initiative in 2007-08, due to changes in the funding formula, Hogie noted.

The expenditure budget, meanwhile, is built around a projected 2.6 percent increase in staff salaries and benefits -- though the actual amount is not known at this time. Negotiations for the 2007-09 master teaching contract have just begun (support staff has traditionally received the same percentage increase in salaries and benefits as the teaching staff, Hogie added).

The only staff that is being added for next year is a third kindergarten instructor -- a position that became necessary when the board opted to make all-day, every-day kindergarten a free program for the coming year.

Previously, Hogie said, the district had charged parents for half of the all-day kindergarten instruction costs (the state currently funds kindergarten programming for half days only). The fee was waived for students who qualified for free and reduced lunches, he added.

But even though the district will be offering the all-day, every-day kindergarten program at no cost to parents next year, that doesn't mean it's mandatory, Hogie pointed out.

"Families can still opt (for the kindergarten student) not to come for full days," he said. And even if the family opts for half days, the parents can still change their minds and switch to full days at any point during the school year, Hogie added.

"If the family wants to change from part time to full time, they can transition (into the full-day program) at any point during the year," he said.

In addition to the projected increase in salaries and benefits, a 10 percent increase in anticipated insurance premium costs is built into the preliminary budget, Hogie said.

"We also anticipate a greater expense for bus fuel and utilities next year," he added.

In other business, the board:

n Approved bids for two separate roof repair projects at Lake Park-Audubon Elementary School in Audubon.

The two companies that submitted bids for the projects were very close in overall cost for the two projects, but ultimately the board decided to approve both bids from Herzog Roofing, Detroit Lakes.

The first Herzog bid, for repairing the roof over the gymnasium, came in at $37,405 (with a 15-year guarantee on the work). The second bid, for repair of a section of roof over the classrooms, came in at $23,960, for an overall cost of about $61,000.

n Approved the borrowing of $382,600 through the aid anticipation program.

n Approved teaching contracts with two elementary school instructors: Kindergarten teacher Rachael Stark, and fifth grade teacher Tiffany Nagel (the latter will fill a vacancy created by retirement).

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454