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School board reviews fiscal year end, policies

By Sue Sitter - | Jul 17, 2021

School policies will be gathered together and posted on the Rugby Public School District’s website for easy access, according to information shared by Superintendent Mike McNeff with the school board at their regular meeting July 13.

Policies and budget items took up much of the discussion at the meeting.

McNeff presented a district strategic plan for the 2020-2025 school years to the board.

The plan included strategies to improve the delivery of instruction to students and streamline expectations school-wide. McNeff used the example of students’ behavior in hallways. “We want to come together and create a more consistent way of approaching some of these behaviors,” he said.

The board approved the plan.

The board reviewed and approved year-end financial reports for the district. The district’s year-end balance sheet showed a general fund balance of $1.41 million, an increase of about $30,000 over the 2020 fiscal year.

The board also reviewed an annual budget report prepared by District Business Manager Dawn Hauck. .

The report showed projected revenues of $9,058,282.80 for the 2021 fiscal year, which McNeff said “represented a $963,096.26 increase from last year. Actual revenues were $13,325 less than projected,” he added.

Projected expenditures had increased also, largely due to the Rugby Public School District’s absorption of the former Wolford School District, which increased state funding, McNeff told the board.

The $9,041,901.73 expenditure total represented a $797,791.78 increase over the previous fiscal year.

McNeff cautioned the 2022 would see “a lot less revenue, and we’ll reduce expenditures because we’re not getting as much revenue.”

Another boon to the district was an extension of COVID- related federal school lunch funding, which would add another year of free lunches to Rugby students. McNeff said the district should be prepared for the impact ending the federal aid would have in the future.

“We still need to deal with Ely Elementary space concerns,” McNeff said. “Pick up and drop off (safety) is still a priority for the school board. McNeff said the district planned improvements for the Ely campus and would meet with Bismarck firm Consolidated Construction July 20.

McNeff said the district would use funds from the federal ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) program to pay for the project.

Plans for renovations on the grandstand at Rugby High School were also in the works, according to McNeff.

McNeff said local levying would remain at 82 mills, adding the levy “has not changed in the last seven years. We can’t go any higher.”

Budget reports also showed a variety of grant monies being used for projects such as student literacy development.

Hauck told the board, “We’re doing pretty well (with the 2021 budget).” Hauck said the district had been waiting on one payment for special education, “but everything else is tracking well.”

“Our audit is coming up August 2 and 3,” she added.

Other agenda items approved by the board included designating Merchants Bank of Rugby as the district’s official depository for funds and designating the Pierce County Tribune as the district’s official newspaper.

The board also voted to approve a pledge of securities by Bremer, Merchants and the Bank of North Dakota.

The board approved memberships in the North Dakota School Boards Association and Policy Services; North Dakota School Study Council; North Dakota Small Organized Schools; the Rugby Chamber of Commerce; North Central Education Cooperative and the Central Dakota Distance Learning Consortium.

In other business, the board approved a public notice to heating fuel vendors requiring them to send letters of registration to the district’s business office.

The board appointed McNeff to represent the district in federal and state school programs including Title I, II(A), II(D), IV and the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. They also named McNeff to represent the district on the North Central Education Cooperative governing board.

The board appointed Deb Goven as the district’s liaison to homeless students and Kari Hill as coordinator of English learner programs.

The board also voted to approve statements of non-discrimination to students with disabilities.

The board elected Dustin Hager as president and Carly Johnson as vice president. They also voted to authorize Hager and Hauck to sign checks for the district.

In other business, the board approved a federal title programs report for the district, which estimated federal allocations for 2021-22 at $156 867 for Title I students, $58,982 for Title II(A) students and $23,227 for title IV(A) students.

The board approved a preliminary budget and a consolidated application for Title I and IIA and IV federal aid programs for students at risk due to economic challenges.

The board also approved rates for hot lunches received by adults working in the schools and rates for sports and student activities. Ticket rates for Rugby sporting events will remain at $4 for students and $6 for adults.

The board reviewed budget reports for the 2022 fiscal year. McNeff said the district anticipated $4,935,618.56 in total state aid. Contributions from property taxes and other local sources added to the aid resulted in a projected minimum increase of $6,842,339.75, according to a state aid worksheet he presented.

Property tax revenues come to the district from Pierce County and parts of Rolette and Benson Counties.

Net cash flow on the district’s preliminary budget showed an anticipated deficit of $62, 777.88.

The board voted to approve the preliminary budget.

McNeff presented a report to the board showing the district anticipated an enrollment total of 590 students for the 2022 school year.

The board approved the report for submission to the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

The board also approved a transportation report for the district.

In other business, the board voted to keep regular meeting times at 7 a.m. and approved language in extracurricular participation policy to exclude students receiving an “F” grade in high school or lower than a “2.0” mark in elementary school from participation.

The board also approved modifications to hiring policies for classified employees to include coaches and co-curricular advisors “and any other position that does not require licensure from ESPB (the North Dakota Educational Standards and Practices Board).”

The board voted to reauthorize school policy statements and approved naming the district’s preschool Rugby Early Learning Center.

The board also voted to hold a property tax and budget hearing Sept. 14 at 7 a.m.

After hearing a proposal to contract with Public Health Nurse Samantha Wentz to provide health services, the board approved a memorandum of understanding to appoint Wentz as school nurse for the district. Wentz will be available at Ely Elementary and Rugby High School Tuesdays during the 2021-22 school year.

Board members ended their meeting by congratulating Hauck on her completion of the Business Manager Certification Program for Schools.

The board will next meet Aug. 10.

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