Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 1, 2014

‘We’re still in the negative’

By Xiomara Levsen | Sep 10, 2013
Pictured from left are Highland Community School board secretary and business manager Sue Rich and school board member Megan Allen.Allen took notes and listened to Rich as she reviewed the 2012-13 fiscal year financial report at the school board meeting on Monday, Sept. 9.


RIVERSIDE—The Highland Community School District school board heard received tjhe financial report from the 2012-13 fiscal year from school board secretary and business manager Sue Rich at the Monday, Sept. 9, meeting.
The general fund balance went from $424,000 in the 2011-12 fiscal year to the ending balance of $88,578 for the 2012-13 fiscal year, Rich said.
“Although as you can see we’re still in the negative in the general fund, we’re definitely moving in the right direction,” Rich said.
The over-budgeted amount in the general fund dropped $386,000 last year, Rich said.
She said the amount has decreased because of careful budgeting the district has done the past three years.
“We were just trying to cut back on our expenses,” Rich said.
This fund pays for the day-to-day expenses the district has to keep it running, Rich said.
“The salary and benefits [for school employees] are 70 percent of the general fund,” she said. “The teachers also use it to buy school supplies for their classrooms. We also use it to pay for the utility bills and gas for our buses.”
Many school districts have been operating over their budgeted amount in the general fund because of the across-the-board funding cuts the Iowa Legislature approved in 2010, Rich said.
“This left districts with bills that had to be paid,” Rich said. “Teachers’ salaries were already negotiated when the cuts happened.”
Some districts, like Highland, had to increase the amount in their cash reserve levy to pay the bills, Rich said. In the 2011-12 fiscal year the cash reserve levy was $600,000 and in the 2012-13 fiscal year it dropped to $475,000. This has also helped to bring down the general fund balance, Rich said. She hopes to have a positive balance in the general fund at the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year.
The transportation fund also dropped from the year before, Rich said. In the 2011-12 fiscal year the district spent $385,245.09 on transportation and in the 2012-13 fiscal year the district spent $372,500.24.
“I was going to point out the maintenance and repair fees went down a lot,” Rich said.
She said this was due largely in part to the school district purchasing newer school buses. In the 2011-12 fiscal year the district spent $20,539.74 in maintenance and repair fees for the buses, Rich said. In the 2012-13 fiscal year the district only spent $5,245.45 on maintenance and repair fees.
School board member Mike Golden asked Rich what she thought when she saw those numbers.
“I’m very happy,” Rich said. “I think it was a lot better than we thought.”
“I was very happy to see that, too,” Golden said.
Other items covered at the school board meeting were:
approving the 28E agreement with the WACO Community Schools to share a physical education teacher for the 2013-14 fiscal year. Bob Hilmer will teach half of his time in the district;
approving the grant applications to the Washington County Riverboat Foundation for the fall grant awards;
approving pay increases for cooks ranging from a $1 an hour increase to $1.50. Food director Becky West said the pay increases were needed because the district pays a lot lower than the Mid-Prairie Community School District and the Lone Tree Community School District. She said employees were leaving to seek higher wages, and the spots she has open she can’t fill because of the low base pay;
approving the resignation of Dorothy Fox and the early retirement of Russell Fox, which becomes effective Sept. 26. Fox was the transportation director for the district for more than 25 years;
approving a letter showing support from the district for the City of Ainsworth to continue with their TIF (tax increment financing) of the Stout subdivision in Ainsworth, which is on the south side of Highway 92 by the fire department;
and approving the payment in the amount of $97,656 to All American Concrete for the work they did on the Ainsworth Elementary School’s parking lot.
The next school board meeting will be held on Monday, Sept. 23, at 5:30 p.m.

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