By Ken Ross, Mananging Editor
The Aurelia School Board was informed this week that the enrollment next year is estimated to be 23 students fewer than at the start of the current school year. The official count for this school year was 336.
Tom Vint, superintendent, informed the board of the estimate at the Monday meeting.
The funding for the general budget is set by the state on a per-pupil basis, about $5,000 per student, as a combination of state aid and local property tax in accordance to a state formula. The count on the third Friday of September of 2005 will effect funding for the 2006/07 school year.
In the case of declining enrollment, the state allows districts to levy a portion of the difference between the current year's general budget amount and what will be raised through per-pupil funding for the next year. This is called the budget guarantee and is raised totally from local property tax.
The state is phasing out the budget guarantee. The portion of the shortfall allowed to be recovered for the 2006/07 school year will be 70 percent and this amount will decline in subsequent years until it is gone.
The potential problem for the Aurelia district was underscored by the annual audit of the school district furnished by Burton E. Tracy & Co., reviewed by the board at the Monday meeting. The audit praised the job the district is doing in adjusting expenditures to match revenue. However, the audit report expressed concern that a continued decline in enrollment raises concerns particularly in light of the phase out of the budget guarantee.
Vint mentioned a concern over the future of middle school sports. Of the current 13 students in sixth grade, only three are boys. The current fifth grade has only six boys.
School board members raised questions about expenditure on long-term projects. They speculated as to what the district might need if it were to eventually be an elementary school only.
Some of the revenue of the district, that from the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) and the School Infrastructure Local Option (SILO) sales tax, can be used only for capital projects or equipment, not for operation.
It was decided that restroom repairs was needed no matter what the future make-up of the school was. It was also determined that carpeting was needed in the elementary classrooms.
The board approved a carpeting bid of $6,211 from Maple Valley, a local business. Vint said that Maple Valley had done a good job in the past of installing carpet in a different area and the carpet has held up well.
The board heard a presentation from Glen Huntington, a Storm Lake architect, regarding extensive modifications and improvements in the restrooms. The board authorized going to bids on the project.
The board approved a long list of summer maintenance projects. At the board's suggestion, Vint will look at the cost of contracting outside help to work on the gym floor since that appeared in the past to be a project that consumed a great deal of janitorial staff time and on one occasion had to be redone.
The board approved the naming of Tim Galvin as business/marketing instructor and as DECA sponsor.
The board approved a contract with Myron Radke for summer grounds maintenance, a position he has taken for several summers.
The board approved a 2 percent salary increase for the two principal positions, a percentage equal to that for teaching staff. The superintendent's salary was raised from $77,000 to $80,000 a year.
The board heard a presentation from Randy and Denise Nicodemus regarding proposed changes in the football concession stand.
They proposed moving the wall back four feet to provide more space. The project would be done with volunteer labor and not involve expense except some glass board and some electrical work.
The building and grounds committee members will meet with those planning the project.
The board approved $500 toward the transportation cost of the senior trip.