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R-P School Board receives clean audit, sets final levy

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Dec 20th, 2013
Posted in Rushford Education

The district has been notified by Clifton, Larson & Allen that it has received a clean audit for the year. Kim Hillberg, representing the firm, relayed the findings to the board at the Monday, December 16 meeting. While there were two compliance findings, it was noted the district quickly put controls in place to mitigate the issues.

The district general fund is down $37,380 for the year at $2,085,022. Of that, $1,216,643 is in unrestricted funds, which can be a cushion for unforeseen financial events, according to Hillberg. The district operating capital is $802,057. “I do like to see it healthy,” she continued. “It allows availability to pay for capital projects, freeing up unrestricted funds. Districts have no short list of needs and this allows you the availability.”

The district currently has no debt service. “No debt is very unusual. There aren’t a lot of districts that have that,” said Hillberg.

Of the general fund revenue, 79.9 percent is currently coming from the state. The remaining 14.1 percent, 2.8 percent, and 3.2 percent are coming from property taxes, federal payments, and “other” sources respectively. The district’s Weighted Average Daily Membership has increased to 760 and is expecting another increase for fiscal year 2014.

“You’re demonstrating that you’re putting the money in the classrooms,” concluded Hillberg. The audit report was approved unanimously.

In other news, an unforeseen glitch in the contact with Ready Bus Line has caused the need for some last minute negotiations. A clause in the contract, in which an option for renegotiations was allowed, went undetected by both Ready and the district. Per the contract, which expires this year, renegotiations were to have taken place prior to November 22.

“My concern is that if there are two competitive possibilities out there, I don’t want to close the options,” said Linder suggesting the district might want to open it up for multiple bids, including Ready.

Ehler indicated that since the November deadline was already passed, there was not enough time. Instead, the district will meet with Ready first and negotiate, then open it up for bids if needed. The item will also be reviewed by legal counsel. The transportation committee of Valerie Howe, John Linder, and Taylor Peterson will meet with staff and Ready Bus Lines to discuss the renegotiations. The goal is to have it finalized by the February 24 board meeting.

The topic of an upgrade the gymnasium floor in the Peterson Middle School was also discussed at length during the meeting. The current floor has some issues with slickness, as well as a low, 5-6 percent shock-type absorption component. Superintendent Ehler, who notified the board of the option of bidding on a used floor from the Mayo Civic Center at the November meeting, laid out the details of his recent consultation with a flooring firm.

According to Ehler, the preliminary estimate of replacing the floor is $10 per square foot, or $65,000, for new B-grade Maple with built in memory pad. The portable Civic Center floor could go for $7,500-$10,000, according to the flooring representative. However, once storage, transportation, installation, and refinishing costs are added in, the floor would likely cost the district an estimated $34,670. “It’s anybody’s guess,” said Ehler. “I would hope they’d let you raise your bid, but if it’s done with sealed bids, that’s it.” The firm felt that there would be a resale market for the current Peterson school floor in the range of $5,000-$8,000.

Board reaction on the issue was decidedly mixed. “I feel we strongly need it,” said board member Julie Koop, “But we also need to know the direction for the future of the facilities.”

Ehler suggested the board decide if it wanted to place a bid, then opt whether or not to put it in, should the facility change.

“I don’t think we should bid on the Mayo floor. We should look forward to new,” added board member Greg Smith.

Ehler noted that he had been approached by residents willing to financially support the purchase of the portable floor, as well as the booster club. “There’s incentive there,” he indicated. It’s not clear how many financial backers there are or what they are willing to donate.

“Personally, I’m somewhat interested in it, even if we pass a referendum in the future,” said Board Chair Angela Colbenson. “Then, if we need to, we can turn around and resell it. Timing is an issue, If we aren’t using it [Peterson], I’d fathom someone would. It’s a difficult decision,” she continued.

“The boiler was a critical need. The floor is functional. I’m more inclined to wait and see,” added board member John Linder. “If we keep Peterson open, we’ll probably want a new floor at some point.”

The board tabled the issue to allow Ehler to nail down the details of any monetary backing that would be available by the community for either the portable floor or a new one.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting is Monday, January 27, at 5:30 p.m., in the high school biology room. The public is encouraged to attend.

The Future Facilities Committee will meet January 15. That meeting is also open to the public.

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