With the high school spring sports scene postponed, then later canceled, the North Branch School Board wrestled with the decision of whether to pay the spring coaches the remaining half of their stipends during its May 14 meeting.

Superintendent Deb Henton explained the coaches were paid 50% of their stipends at the beginning of the spring sports season and the remaining portion of their stipend is usually paid at the end of the season. With the spring sports season officially canceled by the Minnesota State High School League, Henton asked the board members their thoughts on paying the coaches the remaining 50% left on their stipends.

Following a lengthy discussion, the board approved a motion to not pay the coaches the rest of their stipend, but with the understanding the board can rescind the motion at the next board meeting once the district’s overall financial picture for the next school year is presented in detail. Board Chair Kirby Ekstrom and board member Kevin Bollman voted against the motion.

Henton explained when the MSHSL first postponed the spring sports season, the district allowed the coaches to work virtually with their athletes, following the MSHSL guidelines.

Bollman asked what impact paying the coaches’ stipends would have on the budget.

Director of Finance and Human Resources Todd Tetzlaff said the second half of the coaches stipends represents $50,225.

“The revenue that we have typically generated from the students paying fees is the equivalent of $56,388,” Tetzlaff said. “We have not collected fees from some of those athletes who did not sign up because their activity hadn’t started yet and refunded all of the other fees. So there is some lost revenue that we have that we would have used to offset the cost for activities for the paying of our coaches.”

Bollman asked Tetzlaff where the funds would come from to pay the remaining coaches stipends.

Tetzlaff said the activities fund is used to pay the coaches. He explained the coaches stipends are part of the overall budgeting process for the activities funds, but noted he also predicts the revenues will help support part of the program.

“In the case of the spring, the revenue is not coming in for the fees being paid because activities have been canceled,” Tetzlaff said.

Tetzlaff said usually the district has to dip into its fund balance to help make sure the activities fund stays in the positive.

“If there are additional costs in activities, we would be drawing down fund balance to be able to make sure we can meet the payroll for activities,” Tetzlaff said. “Typically activities does draw down additional funding, so activities is not completely self-supporting with the fees that are paid by the athletes. So there’s always some revenue that needs to used to subsidize the cost of running activities in the school district.”

Tetzlaff said if balances are too low in the food service fund, the community education fund or the activities fund, the district will transfer money to those from the general fund to cover expenses.

Tetzlaff said the revenue lost from the spring sports season is $58,482. However, in a normal spring sports season the district is paying $43,663 in transportation costs and the paying of officials.

Board member Heather Osagiede clarified that if the board pays the coaches the remaining 50% of their stipends, it would have to take another approximate $50,000 out of the budget for next year because of the additional costs of this year.

“That is correct. We would have to subsidize some from the general fund to make sure that activities can pay the costs for payroll,” Tetzlaff said.

All the board members agreed that the coaches in the district are very valuable and appreciate all their efforts.

North Branch Area Schools taking applications for school board vacancy

The Board of Education for the North Branch Area Schools is accepting applications to fill the vacancy created by Darryl Goebel’s resignation.

If you are interested in serving on the school board, call Arle Chambers at 651-674-1011 for more information and an application. Applications are due back in the district office by June 10, 2020. Interviews will be conducted on June 11, 2020 with the appointment made at the Regular School Board meeting on June 11, 2020.

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