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MAJOR EXPENSES: Frazee will deficit-spend $1.2 million

Next year, the Frazee-Vergas School District is projected to spend $1.2 million more than it takes in.

The board approved the 2011-12 budget, which includes $11.5 million in expenditures and $10.3 million in revenues. The district will make up the difference by spending money in the bank, leaving it with a $3 million fund balance.

"These are all projections. Those things can change," Business Manager Donna Mineer said.

The budget is based on enrollment of 878 students. There are certain expenditures that are figured in, including a 2 percent transportation increase per contract, 2.5 percent for staff advances and for six retirees (though there may be none, the district still budgets for some).

There are three larger items that cost the district over $1 million alone. The district will lose $325,000 in federal stimulus money, and it will be spending $300,000 on the boiler project and $377,000 on the superintendent buyout.

The state is talking about withholding portions of payments, which will affect the cash flow for the district as well.

Business Manager Diane Menz said they also budgeted $110,000 for a new superintendent because "Mr. Stender was one of the lowest paid superintendents in Minnesota."

He made about $94,000.

She added that without the renewal of a referendum in a couple years, "then it looks really poor."

Earlier in the meeting, Menz also noted that in the last two months, the district has spent about $17,800 in legal fees. She added that without the discount Pemberton Law Firm is giving the district during a beginner's period of time, it would have been well over $20,000.

Also at the regular meeting Tuesday, the board voted to approve a food service contract with Chartwells.

Board member Dana Laine said that the "scope of what they can provide the district" is so grand that most people don't realize it. Besides providing the food service for the district, Chartwells will provide management services as well.

Cooks will still be employees of the district, but Chartwells will be their managers.

Board member Keith Janu said he visited the Perham district to see how Chartwells worked there.

"I was pleasantly surprise that it was restaurant quality food being served," he said.

Another plus, he added, is when kids go through the food line, someone charts what they are eating and then parents can look it up on the Internet and monitor what their kids are eating for lunch.

Laine said that Chartwells buys locally as much as possible, supporting farmers markets.

Mineer said that with her and Menz retiring and Lakes Country Service Cooperative taking over their duties with fewer hours in the office, it would be good for the business office not to have the food service management portion to deal with, too.