[Cambridge-Isanti] Board approves 2012-13 budget

/ 27 June 2012 / jennifer

Rachel Kytonen, Isanti County News, June 27, 2012 –

Using a projected enrollment of 5,026 students, the Cambridge-Isanti School Board approved the proposed 2012-13 budget during its board meeting June 21.

Robyn Vosberg-Torgerson, director of finance and operations, explained the budget is a “road map” or guide for the school operations during the 2012-13 school year. She explained it’s very likely modifications and amendments to the budget will be necessary.

Vosberg-Torgerson explained the district’s resources are primarily provided by the state of Minnesota through the legislative process. The resources are ultimately allocated to each local school district based upon the number of students and their grade levels.

Total general fund revenue for fiscal year 2013 budget is set at $41,291,914 with total general fund expenses set at $44,080,220.

Vosberg-Torgerson explained $2 million will be used in fiscal year 2013 from the unrestricted fund balance; however, the budget does reflect the 12.5 percent fund balance goal set by the board. As of June 30, 2013, the district is estimating its unrestricted fund balance to be at $5,636,823 (funds not tied to a specific program).

An estimated 89 percent of the revenue Cambridge-Isanti schools receives comes from the state, 3 percent from the federal government, 4.5 from local property taxes and 3.5 from other local sources such as fees.

As far as revenue, under general education funding, the district receives $5,224 per Adjusted Marginal Cost Pupil Unit  (per student in the classroom).

As far as expenditures, Vosberg-Torgerson explained fiscal year 2013 will see an increase of 2 percent in supplies and operating expenses and a 2.4 percent increase for salaries and benefits (an average of all the contracts).

Expenses by category in the general fund include 76 percent salaries and benefits, 10 percent purchased services, 8 percent capital expenditures and 6 percent supplies and materials.

Total revenue by fund for fiscal year 2013 includes:

• Unrestricted Fund: $37,993,505

• Restricted Fund: $3,298,409

• Food Service Fund: $2,183,580

• Community Education Fund: $1,812,490

• Debt Service: $6,038,153

• Student Activities: $232,500

• East Central MN Educational Cable Cooperative: $223,349

• Rum River Special Education Cooperative: $4,795,431

• Oak Land Cooperative Center: $1,168,703

• Total: $57,746,120

Vosberg-Torgerson explained class sizes are always being monitored, with an average district-wide class size of 20.58 students. Class size goals for kindergarten range from 20 to 22 students; first through third grade, 22 to 24 students; fourth and fifth grade, 24 to 26 students; sixth grade, 26 to 28 students; and seventh through twelfth grade, 28 to 30 students.

Superintendent Bruce Novak noted he has approved the hiring of an additional second grade teacher at Cambridge Primary School due to the growing class sizes. Due to a decrease in first-grade class sizes at Isanti Primary School, a first-grade teacher will be reduced.

Vosberg-Torgerson noted as far as open enrollment in fiscal year 2010-11, 348 students open enrolled into the district, while 284 open-enrolled out, for a positive net open enrollment of 64 students.

Equalization adjustment for administrators

Board member Tim Hitchings discussed an equalization adjustment for the superintendent, director of finance, athletic director and community ed director.

Hitchings explained an equalization adjustment is allowed in the contracts. He explained the four administrators took a pay freeze in their contracts as requested by the district, and were also the first individuals to settle their contracts.

After much discussion, by a 5-2 vote, the board approved a motion to award an equalization adjustment in the amount of $2,000 per year, for two years, to the four administrators. Board members Mark Becker and Anne Nelson voted against the motion.

During discussion, Becker said approving an equalization adjustment for the four administrators will not sit well with the public, especially since the board is considering going out for an operating levy in the fall of 2013.

“We need to set a good example and get the community back behind us,” Becker said. “We need to tighten our belts. I feel if we open this up, we are shooting ourselves in the foot, and the community wouldn’t support it (the operating levy). I’m afraid of the public perception and what might happen. That’s my honest, gut feeling. We need to make sure the community and public are on our side.”

Board member Lynn Wedlund said she feels all the administrators are doing a great job, but has mixed feelings.

“I applaud them for taking a pay freeze, but I’m a little leery about changing something after the contract is already settled,” Wedlund said. “But we’ve given every employee a bump on their health insurance, and I don’t like seeing one group that got a pay freeze go backwards on that.”

Board member Anne Nelson said she has been thinking hard about what to do on the issue.

“I’ve really been struggling with this … and have been thinking about what I would do in the same position,” Nelson said. “I have been in a leadership position and have taken steps and measures to make things work for everyone. I don’t like the idea of someone losing as a part of it, but I am also balancing the perception of what the community will think. They pay attention to what the top administrators make. I’m not saying it’s right or fair, but it’s reality.”

Becker said the board needs to think about public perception.

“I’m struggling with this, and the public perception will be huge if we go out for an operating levy,” Becker said. “Changing something that has already been settled will not sit well with the community.”

Wedlund said the administrators should stand by the settled contracts.

“The sticking point for me is that I was brought up that if you make a bargain, you stick to the bargain,” she said.

Board member Jeanette Polzin noted that, “none of these people asked to do this (take a pay freeze). We asked them.”

Next meeting: Thursday, July 19, 7 p.m.