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New London-Spicer School Board OKs budget, receives building project update

NEW LONDON — The New London-Spicer School Board on Monday approved the district’s 2014-2015 budget and received an update on the district’s plans to put a $14 million building project on the November ballot for voter approval of bonding.

The budget includes general fund revenues of $13.52 million and expenditures of $13.24 million and will take the district’s unrestricted fund balance from $418,526 on July 1 of this year to $286,986 on June 30, 2015.

The total annual budget for the district, when all funds are included, is around $17 million.

Donna Wilson, the district’s business manager through School Management Services, noted that the budget incorporates raises for the district’s teachers and the $157,564 in budget reduction the board approved this spring.

The district’s technology levy, approved in 2011, has a negative $469,865 balance, but will be reduced to zero when the district receives the levied dollars, Wilson explained.

The technology levy is largely the reason that the district’s total general fund balance is a negative $148,477 as of July 1. The balance is expected to be a positive $124,188 on June 30, 2015.

The budget is built around a projected enrollment of 1,386 students, Superintendent Paul Carlson explained. The projection was made using the district’s new financial planning modeling software, he said, and should be more accurate than other methods of projecting numbers.

During the planning session after the board meeting, Carlson gave the board an update on the process of asking district voters to fund approximately $14.63 million in building projects, including a performing arts center, gymnasium and fitness space and remodeling at three school buildings.

Carlson will meet with architect Paul Youngquist on Monday and finalize the information that will go to the Department of Education about the project. The Department of Education’s approval is needed before the board can vote, at the Aug. 11 meeting, to put the measure on the November ballot.

The tax impact of the 20-year general obligation bonds is estimated at an additional $144 per year on a $200,000 residential homestead property, at $100 per year for a $200,000 agricultural homestead and at $419 per year for a $300,000 commercial and industrial property.

The proposed project includes a 21,890-square foot, 650-seat performing arts center at a cost of $6.75 million and adding a two-court gymnasium and fitness center/walking track for $6.35 million. Both additions would be on the high school building, with the arts center sharing the lobby with the high school gymnasium.

The work includes about $1 million in improvements to Prairie Woods Elementary and $500,000 in improvements at the middle school/high school and would remodel spaces at the elementary school to meet current instructional uses and would also include relocating the nurses’ offices at the middle and high schools into one office.

The board also approved a resolution establishing the filing dates for school board candidates from July 29 to Aug. 12. The board seats currently held by Robert Moller, Helena Lungstrom, Holli Cogelow Ruter and Dan DeGeest are up for election on the Nov. 4 election.

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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