The Pierz School Board, meeting a week early due to the Thanksgiving holiday, heard and accepted its audit report for the 2020-21 school year.

While the district lost a few resident students, it gained in non-resident students coming in, offsetting a possible loss of per pupil state funding, said Janel Bitzan of BerganKDV. State funding is based on the number of students served in a district.

For the 2020-2021 school year, the Pierz School District served about 1,200 students, which does not include about 60 preschool students. At the state level, students, depending upon their age, are given different pupil “weights” from .550 to 1.2 pupil units, with the higher rating going to the older students. By state standards, the Pierz School District serves 1,322.72 pupil units, and funding is based on that.

State funding in the district for the audit period was at $12.310 million, compared to $1.160 million brought in by district property taxes. Other revenues were reported at $1.081 million. Per pupil unit, local property taxes paid $793, state funding paid $10,015 and other revenues paid $960, for a total of $12,028 per pupil expended.

The statewide average for per pupil student spending was $2,180 from local property taxes, $10,393 from the state and $1,055 from other revenues.

“In each of these three categories, Pierz is below the state average, like the property taxes average is below,” Bitzan said. “It shows how the district is attracting students, pupil units outside of district, is not on back of taxpayers. You can see it’s significantly less on the tax side than other districts.”

Bitzan’s report showed that the district’s general fund budget, approved by the School Board, was set at $14.544 million in revenues. The actual revenue amount came in at $14,551 million, $6,794 more than budgeted.

The budget was approved with $14.879 million in expenditures, with actual expenditures at $14.252 million, a difference of $627,474.

Bitzan’s report showed that of the district’s expenditures in 2021, 48% was for elementary and secondary regular instruction; 7% for instructional support services, 9% for pupil support services, 5% for district and school administration and 3% for district support services, 15% for special education instruction, 2% for vocational education instruction, 9% for sites and buildings, leaving 2% classified as “other.”

“The three instructional categories, regular, vocational and special make up 65% of dollars, so the dollars are going directly to students in the classroom,” Bitzan said. This was fairly consistent when compared to 2020 to 2021, she said.

Board Member Ashley Toops asked Bitzan for her own opinion on whether Pierz was generally doing well.

“In general, the district is doing a nice job,” Bitzan said. “Historically it has watched the budget, doing what’s best for kids. When we show ADM (average daily membership of students) served — obviously you’re doing something well to attract students from outside the district — and doing it with less dollars — being good stewards of dollars.”

Just the processes as a whole, Bitzan said she appreciated, what “Tracey (Arndt, business manager) and other staff do to pull information together. It makes the audit easier, it’s so well organized and available,” Bitzan said.

“We’re always strategizing, finding a way to be solvent every year,” Supt. George Weber said. “I’m sort of old school when it comes to categoricals.”

He said his way of managing is to separate the general fund into specific categories, making sure that everyone lived within their means, with money left for investments.

Pierz School Board Briefs

In other business at Wednesday’s meeting, the Pierz School Board:

• Learned from Supt. George Weber that the district has been working on negotiations with each of the district’s employee groups, with a restructuring of salary schedules;

• Learned from Weber that no court decision had been made in regard to the newly-created OSHA Emergency Temporary Standards having to do with COVID;

• Accepted the following donations: $1,000 from Minnesota Education Management Facilities for the landscaping project; donations for the music program from Lisa and Kevin Smude - $1,385, Loren and Janel Meyer - $50 and from Leon and Karen Athman, Jeanne and Richard Knopik, Robert and Julie Kummet and anonymous - $100 each; donations from the Pierz Firemen’s Relief Association including $600 for FFA, $200 and $600 for tennis and $200 for the football coach; and for the Pierz Student Council, $500 from the Harding Sportsmen’s Club and $100 from Loidolt Lumber Company;

• Approved posting for a temporary elementary paraprofessional position to work three days per week as needed for the remainder of the 2021-22 school year;

• Approved the employment of Brittnie Girtz as a temporary elementary paraprofessional, pending a criminal background check;

• Accepted the resignation of Dan Kramer, technology coordinator, effective Nov. 19 and of Shanna Calander, elementary paraprofessional, effective Nov. 5;

• Approved a child care leave request from Carol Voss, elementary paraprofessional, beginning about March 15 until June 2, 2022;

• Approve the employment of Cindy Pulak as a long-term substitute for the elementary media center lab, from 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. daily;

• Approved the proposed 2021-22 faculty seniority list and the 2021-22 Pierz Education assistants seniority list;

• Approved an application to the Minnesota State High School League for a Form A grant to offset student activity fees;

• Approved an agreement with Lisa Clayton to provide speech language therapy services to elementary students on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, at a rate of $50 per hour, plus 50 cents per mile for travel until her services are no longer needed;

• Approved adding Driston Schyma as an another assistant wrestling coach. It was noted that the other coaches took a decrease in pay to accommodate the addition; and

• Was asked by a resident when the school board meeting dates were posted. Thursday, Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent, Terri Krych, clarified in an email that the school board meeting calendar is posted on the district’s website and the agenda is posted three days prior to the meeting on the district’s website and in the front entry of door #2 at the high school building.

The next meeting of the Pierz School Board will be Wednesday, Dec. 15, a week earlier than the usual fourth Wednesday of the month, at 6 p.m. in the high school media center. It will include the annual truth in taxation meeting at 6:05 p.m.

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