Luke Gerden, manager of Clifton Larson Allen, an accounting firm from Rochester, appeared via the internet at the December 16 Houston School Board meeting to share the results of the current audit. He reported a clean audit with no compliance issues. Since the school had over $750,000 in federal expenditures this past year, a single audit was required as well. The Coronavirus Relief Fund was tested; Gerden informed the board that “everything looked great!” Such a single audit had not been done for several years.
The General Fund Unrestricted Budget was at $1,615,594, up by $300,000 over the previous year. Restricted General Funds were at $993,924, up from $628,163 in 2020. Operating capital has remained steady for years at around $467,282. Gerden called that a “nice cushion for the district.”
Long Term Facilities maintenance had been spent down to -$7,984 with the construction of the science rooms. The 2021 balance showed a positive again at $443,467.
Food service went up to $32,927 from a negative balance of -$17,559 in 2020. This increase was caused by the offering of the summer lunch program during COVID.
The Community Service Fund balance showed a -$40,000 in 2021. This was because many classes were canceled or not held during the pandemic, nor were the daycare services open to bring in revenue.
Of the $31.5 million in General Fund Revenue over 90% of that came from the state. 92% of the General Fund Revenue is spent on student expenditures.
Board Chairman Tom Stilin responded to the audit saying, “The main thing is that we spend a lot of money on the kids; we focus on the students and their education.” Stilin went on to point out that only 3.5% of the budget comes from local property taxes.
Some of the increases in funding and expenses were due to the addition of almost 1,000 students at MNVA due to the pandemic. Local ADMs (average daily membership) have been steady for the last five years for the local brick and mortar school.
Transportation expenses went down due to online virtual learning and additional days off last year. In addition, the fact that Houston Schools own their own buses, transportation is less expensive than it is for other schools.
Following Gerden’s presentation, the board moved to approve the school’s proposed levy certification for 2021, an amount of $1,228,932.80.
Superintendent Mary Morem presented her goals for 2021-2022. She is focusing on standards of communication and community relationships and student support.
To increase communication with community engagement, Morem plans to meet with community organizations and churches to gather input and share information; in addition she plans to make use of monthly fliers and putting ads in the paper. Morem acknowledged that she had “hit this hard in July and August” and wants to get back to doing this.
In student support, she noted that HHS will offer two PSEO courses next year so students can remain in the building and still take such classes. She pointed to the current partnership of MNVA and Richfield for 68 students. Morem hopes to partner with other schools as well; this would bring funding and more opportunities for the students.
In other business, the board:
•Set their organizational meeting for January 6, 2022, at 6 p.m.
•Combined polling places for elections; all citizens will vote at the Houston Fire Deptartment regardless of their township.
•Recognized retiring teacher and former principal Todd Lundberg and retiring building and maintenance supervisor Andy Sweet for their service.
•Discussed the possible grant available to restore buildings in the community and repurpose them for school use; they considered such possibilities as creating a school store for students to run and get work-based experience.
The next Houston School Board meeting will be January 6, 2022, at 6 p.m. The public is welcome to attend the meeting in the high school media center or to stream the meeting online from the school website.