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NLS school board approves business management contract, sets hockey fee

NEW LONDON -- The New London-Spicer School Board on Monday evening approved a three-year contract with School Management Services for the district's business management services.

The contract covers the 2013-2014, 2014-2015 and 2015-16 school years, at a cost of $57,500 for the first year, $60,000 in the second year and $61,800 for the third year.

The district began using the Rochester-based company in 2011, after the full-time accountant resigned, having replaced the district's longtime business manager.

Superintendent Paul Carlson outlined the arrangement with SMS for the board, noting that Todd Netzke, certified public accountant and owner of the business, works closely with the district's budget and auditing processes, spending about one day per week on NLS finances. In addition, Donna Wilson spends two days per week at the district offices. Wilson is a retired business manager, Carlson said.

The board also approved setting student participation fees for students who play hockey at $125, which is the same as the activity fee for other sports and activities at the high school level. The hockey fee will also be included in the $375-per-student and $650-per-family maximum amount paid for activity fees.

The board was considering a proposed fee of $300 per student. Carlson explained that the proposal came about because the Paynesville-New London Hockey Association had previously paid the fees for students, but it no longer has the finances to pay the fees. Charging the $300 fee, instead of the $125 paid by hockey players last year, would have covered the resulting financial gap, he said.

Board member David Kilpatrick asked that the district examine how it determines fees of sports, because officials aren't calculating the fees for other sports by their actual financial costs.

"I don't think it's fair to the hockey players," Kilpatrick said. "There is a significant expense to hockey, but there is also significant expense to football."

Kilpatrick also noted that there is no difference between the activity fee for a longer-season sport, such as basketball, and a shorter-season sport, such as golf.

Carlson noted that the district officials can analyze the costs of sports and activities and then set the fees, which are likely to be increased next year. The student participation fees, remaining at the same levels as last year, were approved as part of the consent agenda at the meeting.

The district's hockey players are part of the River Lakes Hockey cooperative, playing their games and practicing at either Paynesville or Richmond on a rotating basis.

The board also approved raising substitute teacher pay to $95 per day from $90 per day. Board member Renee Nolting noted that the pay rate hadn't been raised for nine years and that other area districts pay a higher rate to their substitutes.

Carlson also provided projected enrollment totals for the coming school year. He noted that the projected count of 1,394 for kindergarten through high school was a conservative number. The official student head-count, for purposes of school finances, is taken on Oct. 1 of each year.

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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