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NLS school board approves budget, hears survey results

NEW LONDON -- The New London-Spicer School Board on Monday evening approved the district's budget for the 2013-2014 school year.

The budget includes general fund revenues of $13.45 million and spending of $13.58 million, according to information provided by district Superintendent Paul Carlson.

The total of all funds includes revenues of $16.85 million and expenditures of $17.5 million for the coming year. The total expenditures also include the district's spending on food service, community education, construction, debt service and other post-employment benefits funds.

The district's unreserved general fund balance on July 1 is expected to be $41,210, or about 0.35 percent of expenditures. The unreserved balance is expected to be $156,659, about 1.37 percent, on June 30, 2014.

The board also reviewed the results of a parent survey conducted in the district this spring via School Perceptions. Deb Solsrud presented the information, which showed most parents agree or strongly agree that their children are prepared for the next grade, that their children know how to get help at school and receive inspiration and personalized instruction from teachers.

Parents also received the opportunity to grade the NLS schools in the survey. On a scale equaling an "A" to 5 and an "F" to 1, they gave Prairie Woods a 4.28, the middle school a 4.05 and the high school a 3.97.

The survey results at NLS were also compared to results from comparable districts and revealed that more parents at Prairie Woods believed class sizes are appropriate, that anti-bullying efforts are adequate and before- and after-school activities are satisfactory. More parents of middle school students believe there are sufficient opportunities to be involved, that parent-teacher conferences provide productive communication, that before- and after-school activities and anti-bullying efforts are satisfactory. High school parents were more satisfied with their students' before- and after-school activities than at comparable schools.

On the flip side, fewer Prairie Woods parents believed that staff members were effective communicators and that they received enough information to understand their children's progress.

Fewer middle school parents believed they received timely feedback when their child's progress or behavior is below expectations and that staff were effective in communication.

At the high school, fewer parents thought the staff were effective communicators, that the response to bullying was adequate, that teacher conferences were at convenient times, that parents get timely feedback when their child's progress or behavior is below expectations, and that the parents feel welcomed at school.

The survey was emailed to 752 families and 317 families responded, for a 42 percent response rate.

The board also convened a planning session after the regular board meeting to discuss strategic planning and goal setting, health and safety legislation changes, the bus parking lot and the superintendent evaluation process.

The four key goals for the coming school year were identified, including improving math scores, helping students with career guidance and awareness of their future plans, improving communication and fiduciary responsibility.

The board also discussed potential changes to how bus and car traffic will be managed in the middle school parking lot. The plan is to have a designated drop-off for parents to pick up and drop off their students, plus staff parking, in the middle school lot, Carlson said.

Middle school students riding on school buses will enter and exit the school building through the district office doors on the north side of the building. The plan also includes having traffic directed at the intersection of 73rd Street and State Highway 9, northeast of the high school/middle school building, to help the buses get out into traffic on the highway.

The plan will be reviewed by the district's transportation committee and Palmer Bus, the district's bus company.

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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