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NLS sets target range for budget cuts at $145K to $200K

NEW LONDON — The New London-Spicer School District’s finance committee is recommending budget reductions of between $145,000 to $200,000 for the upcoming school year.

The New London-Spicer School board heard the recommendations Thursday.

The board also approved revisions to the budget for the 2012-13 school year.

The budget revisions are expected to leave a projected unrestricted general fund balance of $206,474 on June 30 of this year. The balance is $134,238 more than the July 1, 2012, unrestricted balance of $72,236.

The district’s general fund revenues and expenditures are projected at $11,567,285 and $11,433,047. District finance officials expect the district to have a total general fund balance of negative $473,831 on June 30 of this year, largely because the district has already spent $1,074,258 of its technology levy monies. District voters approved the $1.5 million levy in November 2011, with $500,000 set for collection each year for three years. However, only $500,000 has been collected so far.

District officials chose to put electronic whiteboards in each classroom last summer, according to Superintendent Paul Carlson, because it was more cost-effective to complete the work all at one time. The technology work completed this summer also included rewiring the district’s buildings, improving audio amplification systems and setting up iPads and carts.

Carlson noted that preliminary work on the budget, based on a number of assumptions that include the estimated increases in teacher pay based on experience and additional education, and $52 more per student in state funding, shows a projected unrestricted general fund balance of $85,440 on June 30, 2014.

Chairman Robert Moller commended the board for continuing to make budget reductions as auditors have told district officials they should have a balance of between 5 and 10 percent in general fund money. The $206,474 unrestricted fund balance is a 1.5 percent balance.

The cuts are “very appropriate” based on the auditor’s recommendations, Moller said.

“We’ve got to continue making budget cuts. We’ve maintained our programs and class sizes and still been responsible to the public.”

The board is expected to review a list of potential budget reductions when it meets again at 5:30 p.m. March 11. The time has been moved up due to a band concert that evening.

In other action this week:

* The board accepted letters of retirement from Alice Johnson, who taught elementary school for 28 years; Janet Marks, who taught elementary school for 35 years; Cheryl Riebe, who taught elementary and middle school for 18 years; Marsha Starcevic, an elementary art teacher for 17 years; and Patricia Kruger, who taught middle school for 24 years.

* The board approved adjusting the school calendar by adding two staff development days June 4 and 5 to make up for two snow days. The district called snow days Dec. 10, 2012, Jan. 11, Feb. 11 and Feb. 19, with one day made up Feb. 18.

* The board expressed interest in adding trap shooting as a high school sport. The board asked for more information on how other schools handle the presence of shotguns on school grounds while school policy prohibits guns at school. The board will take up the discussion again at the March 11 meeting. 

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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