The status of the general fund and a preliminary review of the budget for the 2016-2017 school year were discussed at the regular meeting of the Milbank School District Board of Education on Monday, June 13. According to Superintendent Tim Graf, the district is poised to reduce the mill levy in the capital outlay and special education funds. Early projections indicate a possible reduction from 2.8 to 2.4. “This looks good for us and is positive news for the district,” stated Graf. “We ended the 2014-2015 year with $573,000 in reserves. We think that number will be even greater at the end of this year.”
The district is paying a capital outlay bond certificate used to build the wrestling and gymnastics rooms. The final payment of $376,680 will be made in 2017-2018. “With that bond payment going away, we look to be in good shape,” Graf said.
The Milbank district will also grow as a result of the land they obtained when the Grant-Deuel School District closed at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. “That transaction will also increase Milbank’s property value figures.”
The special education fund shows expenses and income of $1,543,000. “We are also recommending a 1.405 mill levy, which is a decrease from last year’s 1.505 in that area,” said Graf. “With our reserves and budget, these recommendations will not present any risk to the district.” Reserves in that fund must not be more than 25 percent of the budgeted amount. All figures, however, are still in the preliminary stages.
In additional action items, staff changes were approved by the board. The teaching contract for Caitlyn Oien was amended to add Student Congress to her teaching and debate coaching duties. Troy Gauer resigned from his position as the C team boys basketball coach. Rick Swenson will fill that position for the 2016-2017 school year.
Wages were approved for summer OST and custodial employees. “We previously approved the hiring of these individuals and now approved the wages that were set,” explained Graf. “The recommendations included a 25 cent per hour increase for summer help and reflect the increase given to other regular classified staff.” Wages approved include: custodial staff – Ethan Bohn, $8.75; Julie Dwyer, $10.20, and Becky Johannsen, $10.45. OST staff – Alec Bien, $8.50; Cori Redmond, $9.00; Lexy Pillatzki, $9.00; Ashley McCulloch, $9.25; Taylar Bock, $8.75; Jayne Paysen, $10.45; Abby Wollschlager, $8.75; JP Lindquist, $8.75; Kaylee Pinkert, $8.75; Tatiana Stemsrud, $8.75, and Jacob Ebsen, $11.05.
A travel request for the National FFA Convention was approved. The convention will take place October 19-23 in Louisville, KY. Kadon Leddy will compete in AgriScience as will the Floriculture team of Tera Hanson, Kimberlly Aburto, Madison Liebe, Korinne Roggenbuck and Cassidy Voeltz.
Travel for the National HOSA event was also approved. Macie Redmond and Mallory Trapp will compete in the the National HOSA event June 21-26 in Nashville, TN.
The board accepted the school district’s annual audit report as completed by Wohlenberg Ritzman & Co. “The only finding included segregation of duties,” noted Graf. “Although this is common to most schools in South Dakota, we are looking at ways to eliminate it. I want to again commend Nancy Meyer and Pam Liebe for their outstanding work and efficiency.”
Meyer further explained the district will shift some duties to ensure more checks and balances as recommended by the audit. “This is a statewide push to have more eyes on all transactions within the district,” she explained. “It’s is a good thing for all districts.”
A change in the 2016-2017 school calendar was approved. November 7 was previously scheduled as an in-service day. The board approved changing that to November 14 to accommodate nationally renowned speaker George Curous, who will address the Milbank School District staff. “It is a great honor to have Mr. Curous come to our school,” said Graf.
The board also approved its membership in the South Dakota High School Activities Association for the 2016-2017 school year and the Flex Benefits plan with Horace Mann. Changes to the current plan include eligibility employment status to full-time, eligibility increase minimum required hours to 30, and an increase in the maximum annual election to $2,550. “We have no choice in these changes. We simply need board approval,” Graf noted.
Nine open enrollment applications were also approved for the 2016-2017 school year. Five of the nine are kindergarten students; one from the Waverly district and four from Grant-Deuel. The other four students, all coming from Grant-Deuel, will be in grades two, seven, eight, and 10.
A budget hearing was set for Monday, July 11, at 6 p.m. The regular meeting of the school board will follow. The public is invited to attend the meeting and comment on the preliminary budget.