Westonka School Board swears in new member, approves preliminary budget

By Nicole Brodzik
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Heidi Marty gives the oath of her new position as school board member during the June 5 Westonka School Board meeting. (submitted photo)

The Westonka School Board is officially at capacity after the ceremonial swearing in of Interim School Board Member Heidi Marty on June 5. Board Clerk Loren Davis read the oath. Marty’s first official meeting was on May 15 during the ceremonial ground breaking at Mound Westonka High School. Marty was chosen as the interim replacement for the seat that was left empty after the death of late Vice Chair Ann Bremer.

Marty and the rest of the council’s biggest item during the June 5 meeting was approving the revenue and expense budgets for the 2017-18 school year.

Kathy Miller presented the administration’s proposal. The biggest line item was the general fun, for which Miller estimated revenue would be $30,036,059 with expenditures of $30,194,546. Those figures leave a deficit of $158,487, which Miller explained is mostly due to the new early childhood education improvements.

Miller said that most of the general fund is used for wages and benefits, and because of increased enrollment in the district, more employees were hired and therefore, more money spent.

“In almost all school districts, about 80 percent is wages and benefits,” Miller said. “Because of enrollment growth, had to hire number of faculty and staff. That is included in this budget.”

Miller went on to show the history of enrollment in Westonka. The demographic study for the 2017-18 school year predicted around a 50 student bump from the 2016-17 school year, which is the driving force behind the budgets, according to Miller.

Miller also said that this year’s budget is expected to come out close to even, with that drop in the 2017-18 school year expected due to the new early childhood facilities.

“The use of the fund balance was originally planned that to build this building, we were going to use that to finish building it,” Superintendent Kevin Borg said.
By law, the budget is to be adopted before July 1 each year in order for the school district to make its payments, and then can revise the budget in January when there is a better indication of the student enrollment. That budget was approved unanimously.

The board also approved a measure that would swap out the current district-supplied cell phones for monthly stipends to offset costs of employees personal cell phones. The administration noted that this is how many other local districts deal with employee cell phones. That stipend would only go to employees who are required to have a cell phone to conduct school business and to complete job responsibilities. That item was also approved unanimously by the board.