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Short and long term budget factors discussed during Ellsworth School Board meeting, photo by Ellsworth Community School District.

The Ellsworth School Board met on March 22 and 24 to appoint a new board member and to discuss short and long term budget factors for the 2021-2022 school year.

Julie Lundstrom has been appointed to replace Dana Glor on the board. Glor stepped down for business reasons, and the plan is to have Lundstrom start immediately as the board starts tackling the budget.

Short-term, long-term factors

Since budget proposals have yet to be created, the board will consider possible projects, state and federal funds, expenditures and monetary gains when crafting the 2021-2022 school year.

  • State budget decision

  • Health insurance rates for staff

  • Summer school attendance

  • Student count

  • Learning loss

Learning loss can look different for all school districts, however the general concept is that schools are reporting lower student retention rates, decline in grades, mental health problems amongst students and loss of social interaction this year.

Ellsworth School District Superintendent, Barry Cain said, “We have been in-person all year so we are lucky that our learning loss has been smaller than other schools, but it is still a problem.” 

  • Staffing

    • Add a teacher for grade 2 at the elementary school

    • Increase science position to teaching eight sections

    • Adjust current health assistant position

    • Replacement of staff for pupil services

    • Mental health grant position

    • Possibly hire school psychologist

  • School building maintenance

    • Batting cage updates

    • Security camera upgrades for multiple buildings

    • Student furniture

    • Sealing, lining and crack filling for parking lots

    • Possible new baseball dugouts ($62,000)

    • Chiller replacement at the high school ($325,000)

    • Four new lunch tables at high school ($6,500)

    • Carpeting for the gym lobby area at the high school ($18,183.25) 

    • Middle school exterior project ($335,000) 

    • Phone system replacement at the middle school ($35,377)

    • New music risers at the middle school ($29.857)

    • Drainage system repairs at the elementary school ($37,000)

    • New pool pump ($17,725)

    • Pool filter replacement ($45,300)

    • New chemical distribution system for the pool ($12,934)

  • Transportation

    • Replacement of one or two school buses ($95,000 to $190,000)

    • Purchase a early childhood bus with restraints ($26,000)

    • Purchase of a general purpose van ($20,000-$25,000)

  • Technology

    • Wireless access point replacement and license update ($46,879)

    • Chromebook/Ipad replacements ($29,767)

    • Website replacement ($10,300)

  • Sports equipment

    • 50 middle school helmets ($8,719)

    • Middle school shoulder pads ($7,765)

    • Football uniforms ($14,600)

  • ESSER Funds

The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief is actually three federally funded stimulus packages. They are largely distributed based on a district’s Title 1 formula and are given to schools for their COVID-19 related expenses. Schools must use the money to address learning losses, however the usage of the funds are flexible beyond that.

“It is unusual that we get funds from the federal government that we have flexibility to choose what we spend it on, so these funds really help us,” Cain said.

The district has already received $98,936, which was spent on health aids, food service, special education and community service.

ESSER 1 did not cover the district’s entire COVID-19 related expenses of $429,429.30.

ESSER 2’s funds are expected to become available in April 2021 and are projected to be $647,800. These funds must be spent by July 30, 2023.

Most of the details of the ESSER 3 package is unknown.

  • Possible operational referendum in April 2022.

  • Fund 38 debt expiration in April 2023.

The school district has been paying $130,000 a year for borrowing close to $1.5 million over twenty years ago. After renegotiations, the school district will pay this off in 2023.

  • Fund 38 Energy Efficiency Project payment expires in April 2027. 

This will reduce the tax levy by approximately $200,000 in the 2027-2028 school year.

Budget proposals will be brought to the board in April and May to start finalizing monetary decisions for 2021-2022.

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