St. James School Board approves a pair of updated budgets at March meeting

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

At Monday night's St. James School Board meeting, the board approved an updated integration and achievement budget and an updated budget for the 2020-2021 school year.

"We outlined a little bit more of what the integration and achievement budget is geared towards," said Superintendent Steve Heil.

Currently, St. James Schools teach classes such as Emergency Medical Responder, healthcare careers, Child Development Associate class for childcare, and standard teaching classes.

"We see that if we can train the kids we can help them get into the careers a little bit easier in the area. A lot of these jobs are needed within the school district so."

The district also looked at Odysseyware, Read-180, and other programs designed to facilitate learning for students. The school kept its JumpStart program for kindergarteners and sixth graders.

The board also approved a revised version of the 2020-2021 budget.

After school tutoring into after-school credit recovery, some teachers will do a third-trimester credit recovery.

The board had approved the original budget in May of 2020.

"At that time we didn't know what COVID would be doing at that point, so we budgeted pre-COVID not knowing," said Courtney Brey.

Funds, including CARES funding and child care funding, were updated. A few areas in the budget could be zeroed out due to no expenses due to COVID-19 or a loss in revenue, such as concession stands at sporting events.

The school also does not have fees at sporting events, so funds will be transferred to help cover those losses.

"Things like that we accounted for," said Brey. "We kind of know exactly what some of the pieces will look like, but with the rest of the school year, we still have to figure out some of the other pieces."

Grants, such as the Universal Plus Grant ($75,000) and Business Farm to Table Grant (almost $95,000) are now accounted for within the budget.

Grants for meals over the summer for students accounted for $97,000.

Board member Scott Runge asked Brey about the impact of COVID on the outlook of the school budget, and whether the district was over or under budget.

"I think we have creatively have used the funding we have to our advantage and seeing where we can use it for funding throughout the district with the different changes that have been needed to be made," said Brey. "We hear there's another round of COVID funding coming in the next week or two. We should know some more but now they want us to use our first round of money first, and then we're able to use the second round, so I think overall it will help us out."

The next St. James School Board meeting is scheduled for April 12.

Other items:

- Resolution to accept gifts: Darfur Sportsman Club donated $500 towards the Darfur Sportsman Club scholarship, Dennis Fossum donated $25,500 towards the Friends of the Court, Judy Carter donated $750 towards the Martin Johnson Scholarship, Laura Murvartian donated $1,000 towards the Murvartian Scholarship, Smithfield Foods donated $600 towards the Smithfield Foods Scholarship, Rod’s Repair donated $350 towards Northside Elementary’s virtual field trip, and Karla and Wes Beck donated $200 towards the Strength and Conditioning fitness program, they have generously offered to donate to the St. James Public School District.

- Approve financial support of up to $6,000 for the St. James MN State High School Clay Target League (Trap Team) for the 2021 Clay Target season

- Approve resolution for authorization to borrow for a line of credit at Pioneer Bank

- APprove request by Luciana Villalobos to take unpaid medical leave

- Approve request by Paola Contreras to take unpaid medical leave

- Approve 2021-2022 school calendar (option A)

- Approve tentative 2022-2023 school calendar (option A)

- Resignments and resignations:

- April Skramstad- MSHS social worker

- Bev Carson- MSHS special education teacher

- Cathy Bruce- Northside music teacher

- Katelynn Beckius- admin assistant

- Elaine Krech- 1st-grade teacher

- Karen Lahti- MSHS band director