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Kaiser tells Boyceville board budget in limbo

BOYCEVILLE — “We have a lot of unknowns,” Superintendent Nick Kaiser told the Boyceville Board of Education during a discussion on the 2021-2022 Fund 10 preliminary budget during the June 23 meeting which was held in the Tiffany Creek IMC.

Kaiser began his budget discussions by stressing to board members that the upcoming year’s budget was still “quite preliminary” as there is a lot of work to be done on it.

Kaiser noted that there is currently an estimated deficit of $325,000 which included the full bus purchases with some movable items but, said that there is still a lot of work to do on the budget concerning staffing.

“We still have quite a few staffing positions to figure out and that kind of stuff, so we’re probably in a similar spot where we’ve been most years about this time,” stated Kaiser.

“We have to get the preliminary budget started so we can start the fiscal year of 2021-22 (which began July 1),” he added.

Earlier in the meeting during his superintendent’s report, Kaiser stated that there has been an impasse with the state’s joint finance committee on whether or not the state was going to meet the statutes for getting ESSER  (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund)monies from the federal government. Kaiser added that the joint finance committee had met and passed their part that met the federal criteria or requirements to get additional state funding, however, he said it really didn’t do much to help Boyceville’s budget.

“Today, I just got a couple of comparisons from the governor’s office for our budget and the first part of the fiscal year compared to what the Joint Finance put out, there is about a $520,000 difference,” said Kaiser. “So, that’s just the first part of it, there is a $700,000 or $800,000 difference in the second part.”

While Kaiser stated that the district is eligible for federal money, which is the ESSER III funds but, where the budget sits right now, although it is far from being finalized, he is not seeing any increase in the sparsity aid in the state’s proposals and only a slight increase for special education funding.

“There’s no revenue limit change which really does not help us,” continued Kaiser. “Where the budget stands right now is we still don’t have a lot of answers, however, it’s really not in great shape for public schools in my opinion.”

One of the big issues according to Kaiser, which the state has not addressed as of yet, is any way to mediate the number of kids that were lost this past year due to homeschooling during the COVID pandemic.

“A lot of schools saw a significant drop in attendance and there was no way of getting that back,” Kaiser said.

“Hopefully our numbers will bounce back up,” Kaiser told members. “If they do, that’s great if they don’t, it’s going to be a rough year. Again that’s going to cause us, the way the budget sits now, to definitely change our plans.”

“Ultimately, we’re going to have to use that money wisely and see how you can help yourself out because if you’re getting any other revenue and inflation is the way it is going it is not going to get any cheaper for all the costs of products we’re going to have,” added Kaiser. “We don’t know what kind of winter we’re going to have yet, we don’t know how much snow we’ll have to shovel or plow. So, it’ll be interesting, but it will change a lot in the next few months.”

“This is our starting point. So, we’ll see where this takes us but, we won’t have a budget ready to go to start the new fiscal year,” he concluded.

Bonnie Barker, director of special education and school psychologist for the district, presented some snapshot data on the number of students receiving special education services in the Boyceville Community School District over the past two years.

In 2020-21, 123 students or 18.23 percent of the total student population of 673 received special educational services as compared to 134 students or 18.87 percent of the 710 student count that received such services in 2019-2020.

In other business, the board accepted the resignations of Erin Leslie as a middle school paraprofessional and cheerleading advisor and Lexie Razmus as food service director and head cook. It also accepted the retirement request of Susan Gilbertson who has served as the district’s special education secretary for the past 29 years. The board also approve several hires including Keri Peterson as a middle school volleyball coach, Teddi Humpal to serve as the new food service director, Carol Quinn as an evening janitor at TCE and Megan Erickson, who is working toward a special education degree, to fill a one-year, part-time paraprofessional position at TCE.

Before going into closed session, the board also accepted a $1,500 summer literacy grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

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