12/19/2013 10:19:00 AM Randolph '14 levy and budget OK'd
by Ken Haggerty
The Randolph School Board approved a final 2014 levy of $1,064,311 at its December 16 meeting.
That's about $156,000 (13 percent) below the preliminary levy set of $1.220 million set earlier this Fall. The final levy is $31,338 (3 percent) higher than last year's levy of $1,032,973.
Superintendent Michael Kelley said the estimated tax notices that have already been sent out do not reflect the lower number. Kelley said he had heard from a number of people who were surprised by the higher number in the estimated school tax number.
Major changes in school funding and levy authority from the 2013 Minnesota State Legislative session have changed how the District establishes the levy and how it is reported (voter approved, other, etc.). That made the preliminary levy tough to estimate, so the District reported it at the maximum with full intention to lower it as more final numbers were obtained, said Business Manager Regina Wernimont.
School Boards now have more authority to levy without voter approval. A new location equity levy was also established for metro area districts.
Wernimont said the Randolph District could have, but did not take advantage of the formula to get more referendum funding.
"We have the same level of referendum funding as we had prior to the changes in legislation," said Wernimont.
Wernimont said actual school district taxes should be lower than the estimates sent out.
The Board approved a final 2013-14 budget with expenditures of $6,858,255. Debt service is $554,253 of that total. Remaining construction is $350,000 of that total.
Wernimont said notable new expenditures in the 2013-14 budget are for a new school nurse position and a new learning disabilities teacher, both listed as .5 of a full-time equivalent and each budgeted for $25,000 plus benefits. The District will also look at buying a new bus for about $85,000. A sixth route was added this year. Kelley wants to have a ten bus fleet.
A new elementary math curriculum for $47,000, a new high school science curriculum for $15,000 (more use of on-line materials), a new 1.1875 kindergarten teacher ($45,242 plus benefits) and a new .5 Health/PE teacher ($31,564) were other new expenditure items highlighted.
Revenue is forecast at $6,408,156 so a deficit of $450, 099 is forecast, with $350,000 of that from previous construction spending that has been accounted for with previous revenue. Wernimont and Kelley said they have had forecasted deficits before, but they usually are conservative in their estimates and are conservative in spending throughout the year and usually bring in a balanced budget at the end of the year.