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New budget reflects state aid cuts and enrollment woes in RCW

RENVILLE -- The Renville County West School Board has adopted a budget that reflects less state aid because of fewer students.

The district's overall budget projects revenue and expenditures of about $6.5 million. Revenue falls about $4,000 short of expenditures in the budget.

However, the general fund, which pays for day-to-day operating expenses, is balanced at $6.06 million in revenue and expenditures. The expenditures are estimated to be about $600 less than revenues.

"We have it pretty much zeroed out," Superintendent Lance Bagstad said in a telephone interview.

The budget will be revised during the coming school year as more information is available about grants and about levels of state and federal aid.

The general fund budget includes $80,000 to pay the transition costs of moving the elementary school from Sacred Heart into the current high school in Renville. It also includes the cost of two roof repair projects which are still in the bidding process.

The budget is built on an assumption of no additional funding coming from the state in the coming year,

Bagstad said. It includes an estimated enrollment of 501 students, a drop of about 20 students from the last school year, and it also includes an administrative pay freeze which was approved in May.

The district has a mobile population and sees an enrollment decline when migrant families move on after the fall harvest. Those families used to return each spring, but that didn't happen as much last spring, Bagstad said.

The district won't know how many of them will be back in the fall until school has started, he said.

The board accepted the resignation of Elementary Principal Bill Adams. He has taken a job as the K-2 principal in the Belle Plaine School District. The job will take him and his wife closer to their families, Bagstad said.

"We're sad to see Bill go," he said. "He's done well for us, and we'll miss him."

The board decided to replace Adams with an elementary dean of students and to make High School Principal Jeff Wilson principal of grades K-12.

Bagstad said he or Wilson will be responsible for duties that require attention by someone with certification as a principal. A dean of students does not need certification at that level.

The district has moved more than half the elementary classrooms to Renville already, he said. A project to paint murals throughout the school is also going well.

Federal economic stimulus funding has helped hire young people to help with the move and the murals, he said.

Board members also spent part of the meeting discussing the district's mission and vision statements.

Board members discussed renewing an $800 per pupil operating levy that is set to expire after this year. They are still considering whether to ask only for a renewal of the levy or to include a second levy question on the fall ballot.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340