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District raises meal, milk prices a nickel

NEW LONDON -- The New London-Spicer School board approved the 2011-12 school budget and approved raising school lunch and milk prices a nickel at the regular meeting Monday.

The 2011 budget includes general fund revenues of $12,749,525 and expenditures of $12,686,968 for the coming year. The $62,557 difference will increase the district's projected fund balance to $144,094 on June 30, 2012.

The projected general fund balance, as of July 1, 2011, will be $81,537, which is a $145,351 turnaround from the negative $63,811 balance the district had going into the 2010-11 school year.

District Accountant Lorena Shemon noted that that district expects $436,319 less revenue for the coming year, due to lower state and federal funding and declining enrollment. The district expects 25 fewer students in the fall than last school year.

The general fund expenditures include district-wide costs of $3,577,085, elementary costs of $3,278,062, middle school costs of $2,570,243 and high school costs of $3,261,578.

The board also approved the school lunch prices for the coming year. The cost of lunch will increase 5 cents, making lunch $1.75 for elementary students and $2 for middle and high school students. The cost of milk was also increased 5 cents, to $0.30. The remaining meal prices remain the same, with breakfast at $1.15 and $1.25 for elementary and middle/high school, second helpings of lunch at $1.50 for everyone and free breakfast and $0.40 lunch for students receiving reduced price meals.

Superintendent Paul Carlson noted that the district's lunch prices were close, if not the same, as those charged by the Willmar and Montevideo districts. The three districts have agreed to share their food service director. Willmar's Food and Nutrition Services Director Annette Derouin, a registered dietitian, will oversee school meals and menus for the three districts.

The NL-S elementary lunch price was the same as the other districts, while the increase in the middle and high school lunch puts all three districts at the same price.

Carlson noted to the board that they may need to change how the district manages lunch prices while working with Willmar and Montevideo. The district had previously waited several years to increase prices and then made larger increases, rather than making smaller price increases.

The board also heard a report from Carlson about what will happen if state government shuts down due to the budget impasse in St. Paul. If the shutdown is extended, it is possible that school will not open in the fall, Carlson said.

"The start of school would be in question," he said. The district will continue to operate summer programs, including special needs summer programs, summer school and the PALS child care program.

The district, and districts across the state, will not receive state aid payments for July and, if the state isn't operating, the federal funding that flows through the state office will not be paid out either. The annual Adequate Yearly Progress reports, due Aug. 15, may not arrive on time, high school seniors still working to pass the state GRAD tests will not have the opportunity to take their required tests in July.

Looking further, without funding, the district would have to operate on its fund balance and aid anticipation certificates to operate, Carlson said. Plus, the district is contractually obligated to pay its staff because it did not notify teachers and administrators that they were placed on unrequested leave.

"It is definitely possible that school wouldn't open (in the fall)," Carlson said. "It's very unfortunate that the state of Minnesota is in this situation."

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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