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BEA Board looks at the numbers

By Staff | Feb 16, 2020

BEA students Luke Carr, left, and Jack Frundt give the BEA board members an update on the Business Professionals of America organization, as staff and members of the public listen in the background of the photo.

Finances were certainly at the forefront of the discussion at the monthly Blue Earth Area School Board meeting on Feb.10.

Enrollment is a key factor in determining the amount of dollars the district receives from the state and superintendent Mandy Fletcher had some good news to share with the board on that subject.

“Our numbers have remained steady since last October when I reported we had 1,026 kids enrolled,” Fletcher told the board. “We are holding steady and now have 1,022 students. One year ago we had 1,004 kids enrolled.”

The board also heard from the district’s fiscal services coordinator, Alan Wilhelmi, who presented a revised budget to the board. Although there was some improvement in some numbers, the report still showed reductions will have to be made.

The revised budget was approved and then the board moved on to consider a proposal by Baird and Company, Inc. to aid the district in making financial decisions.

“They will evaluate the district’s finances in an objective manner,” Fletcher explained. “Their purpose is to help us establish a systemic approach that right sizes the district so we do not end up in a cycle of needing to make reductions every year or every other year.”

The board approved the proposal at a cost of $10,500.

“We have a lot of difficult decisions to make in the next months,” Fletcher said. “Eighty percent of our expenditures come from personnel, which is what makes having to make cuts so tough. We cannot keep deficit spending.”

Next the board took up a proposal from Rapp Strategies, Inc. to assist in preparing for a possible referendum vote this November.

According to their proposal, Rapp Strategies provides basic tactical needs and other services to design and implement public information and community engagement strategies.

The board approved the Rapp Strategies proposal at a cost of $9,500.

Moving on to other matters, superintendent Fletcher mentioned the week of Feb. 17 is School Board Recognition Week and presented all of the board members with certificates and thanked them for their service.

“I do not think a lot of people realize the amount of time board members spend working on things for the school district,” Fletcher commented.

Two Blue Earth Area seniors were at the meeting as representatives of the BEA Business Professionals of America organization. Luke Carr and Jack Frundt explained the many different categories available for students to participate in.

“Payroll accounting, parliamentary procedure, finance management, business law ethics, banking and finance and entrepreneurship are just some of the things kids could compete in,” Carr said. “We have 20 students who advanced to the state competition from the region contests this year. The state competition is March 5-7.”

Frundt mentioned it was good for BPA members to see the opportunities which exist and they might be interested in.

“And I was a member of the parliamentary procedure team so to be here tonight and observe the board conducting this meeting is fun for me,” Frundt added.

Moving on to personnel matters, the board approved the retirement of Community Education director Dar Holmseth, effective Aug. 1. Holmseth has been an educator for 34 years and began her teaching career in Elmore.

“I want to thank Dar for her dedicated years of service to the district,” board chair Susan Benz said. “She will be missed.”

The board also announced three teachers have declared their intent to take an early retirement incentive. They are Donna Drescher, a K-12 ESL teacher; Amy Ankeny, an elementary teacher; and Janet Gilreath, a Title I teacher. The board approved all three retirements.

Board member Frankie Bly expressed his appreciation for the years of service given by the three teachers.

“I want to thank them for all they did for BEA and wish them well in their retirement,” Bly said.