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Completed center impacts budget’s revenue, spending

NEW ULM– The District 88 School Board received a budget summary for fiscal year 2023 Thursday with total revenues at $35.25 million and $36.17 million in expenses.

In creating a budget, Business manager Barbie Roessler said the number of students is the first thing to determine, because funding is based on enrollment.

The district is estimating 2140 students in 2022-23.

“We are continuing to either grow a little bit or stay steady,” she said.

In terms of revenue change from the 2021 budget to the 2023 budget, there will be a $258,969 decrease in property taxes. The 2023 fiscal year has $5.1 million in property taxes budgeted for the district, compared to the $5.3 million in 2022.

State revenue to the district will increase by $189,920. State funding for 2023 is $22 million and is the largest source of revenue for the district. About 75% of revenue will come from Minnesota. Local property tax represents 17% of funding.

Federal revenue will also increase from $1.4 million in 2022 to $1.7 million. The school continues to receive funding from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief programs created in 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The district will use ESSER II — summer funding in 2023 and will split $1.6 million of ESSER III funding between 2023 and 2024. The district has discretion in how the ESSER money is used. Another $200,000 will be received from ESSER, but must specifically be used to target learning loss caused by COVID.

The school had received $115,219 in federal money for COVID testing in 2022 but will receive no additional money for testing in 2023.

Miscellaneous funding is estimated to decrease by $92,726. The primary reason for the decrease is gifting/donations are expected to be reduced in 2023. Roessler explained the district received many one-time donations for the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center last year. Those donations are not expected to repeat in 2023.

Expenditures are expected to decrease slightly in 2023. Salary and wages represent 55% of expenditures at $16.6 million.

Capital expenditures saw the most decrease; dropping from $1.65 million to $583,196.

Roessler said once again, that this was because of the CTE Center. The major equipment purchases were made in 2022, reducing the need for further expenses next year.

Food service funds will be seeing significant change next year. For the last two years, lunch was provided free as a COVID relief measure, but at the start of the next year, parents will need to pay lunch accounts again.

Costs are expected to increase because of supply chain issues and the price of gas. The cost of meals is set to increase by 20 cents per meal.

Superintendent Jeff Bertrang said it is a challenge to budget food services, since all estimates are based on 2019 statistics.

Earlier in the meeting, the board voted to write off uncollectible food service accounts as bad debt. The district usually writes off the bad debt on an annual basis, but for the last two years, the district cut all payments for regular lunch during the COVID pandemic.

As a result, there was no bad debt to write off since 2019. Roessler said this year’s write-off was unusually small. In 2019, the write-off was approximately $200. This year it was $22.24.

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