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BEA Board OKs budget

Projections show an increase in some funds

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Jun 21, 2021

BEA staff member and QComp coordinator Brenda Smith gives the BEA School Board members an update on the QComp program at the school.

The last Blue Earth Area School Board meeting of fiscal year 2021 was held on June 14 and it meant there were many ‘housekeeping’ items to address before the start of the new fiscal year.

One of the items on the agenda was the passing of the proposed budget for the 2022 fiscal year, which the board passed unanimously.

Leading up to the passing of the proposed budget, Buildings and Grounds supervisor Al Gieser told the board there would be an increase of $105,000 in the amount dedicated to the Long Term Facilities Maintenance (LTMF) Fund.

“There are some items which need to be taken care of which has led to the need for an increase in the LTFM Fund,” Gieser explained. “The added expenses are due to radon testing, roofing costs, concrete replacement on sidewalks at the middle and elementary school and the need to acquire additional fire safety devices.”

Gieser’s report came before Fiscal Services coordinator Alan Wilhelmi led the board through a review of the proposed fiscal year 2022 budget.

“Projections show an increase in the fund balances for the General Fund, the Food Service Fund and the Community Service Fund,” Wilhelmi noted. “The balance of the General Fund is projected to increase by $468,863, which would make the General Fund balance $3,887,429 as of June 30, 2022.”

The board also heard a number of district reports including one on QComp, which is a voluntary program involving career ladder/advancement options, job-embedded professional development, teacher evaluations and performance pay and alternative salary schedule.

“We have 10 years of experience with the plan,” QComp coordinator Brenda Smith said. “Our plan has helped us stay focused on our mission of student achievement.”

The board also heard from Service Learning Day coordinator Sara Albright.

“We held the school’s Service Learning Day back in May,” Albright told board members. “Students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades were able to get out in the community and help with clean-up and other similar tasks.”

Albright explained the goal is to get out and do some work in each town within the BEA School District.

“It is a great way for our kids to give back to their community,” board member Stacey Beyer commented.

School nurse Ann Crofton was also at the meeting and provided a review of the year dealing with COVID-19.

“This past school year obviously brought a lot of changes,” Crofton commented. “While there was a huge learning curve, I really think the data shows we were very safe in school.”

She pointed out some factors she felt led to BEA’s success in dealing with the pandemic.

“I feel our school’s good ventilation system was a huge factor in our success,” Crofton said. “And our students were very good about wearing masks and following protocols.”

Superintendent Mandy Fletcher echoed Croften’s thoughts.

“The data shows we were well-prepared,” Fletcher added. “And I believe our planning paid off. We can be proud we had kids in school all year long. But, we still had a lot of school absences.”

Fletcher then continued with the superintendent’s report.

“It looks like the legislature will be called back into special session soon so we will wait and see what happens there,” she commented. “The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) dues were paid. If you remember, the MSHSL added extra dues on to member schools’ original fee statement. We were able to lower our payment from $7,000 to $6,000. However, I will tell you there is a great deal of frustration with the League’s financial management.”

Principal Conan Shaffer was on hand and gave an update on Blue Earth Area’s graduation rate.

“We had a graduation rate of 94 percent which is well above the state average of 83 percent,” Shaffer shared. “We also compare favorably to other schools in the area.”

The board also heard from K-7 principal Dave Dressler.

“We have put a pause on our decision on purchasing a new math curriculum for one year,” Dressler said. “The materials are hard to obtain right now. I would also like to report credit recovery classes will begin June 15.”

The board also:

• Approved board meeting dates for 2021-22.

• Voted to approve the legal firms of Kennedy Graven and Frundt, Lundquist & Gustafson as legal representation for 2021-22 and authorized the board chair and the superintendent to contact legal counsel.

• Voted to rescind face covering policy 808.

• Approved the hiring of Brittany Eckhardt as a .167 full-time equivalent chemistry teacher.

• Approved the contracts of Technology director Brandon Ankeny and Community Education director Rachel Peterson.

• Voted to accept the resignation of paraprofessional Emily O’Connor and Title 1/instructional coach Kristen Flohrs.

• Approved the request of elementary education teacher Keli Enser for leave.