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School Board approves $6.7 million budget

Posted 9/23/09 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

The McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 gave its final approval to a $6.7 million budget for the 2009-2010 school year during its meeting on Monday, Sept. 14.
The new budget, which calls for a $417,304 deficit, includes $546,585, in federal stimulus and other one-time funding.
While the projected deficit budget is of concern to Steve Holen, district superintendent, he informed the board that because of oil and gas revenues that the district receives, he does not anticipate the actual deficit to be that large.
“We have to base our budget on the state money as well as the property taxes that we receive,” states Holen. “But we also get oil revenues that historically have fluctuated greatly.”
According to Holen, because of a new state law, the amount of money that the district can receive from oil and gas production revenues is now capped at $750,000.
“As part of the legislation, once the  district has reached that capped amount, we can request money from the county to help us with our transportation costs,” stated Holen.
Under the approved budget, the district anticipates receiving funds of $6,312,185.69 while expending $6,729,490.28.
In a non-related issue, the board also approved a new district policy that governs the use of electronic devices by all district students.
“The new policy now gives the administration the authority to look at a student’s cell phone or other electronic device if we suspect there is something inappropriate on it,” states Holen. “With the use of cell phones, we have had concerns that these devices have been used to take photos or videos of other students in locker rooms or have been used to send copies of tests to other students. The new policy will allows us to check student’s phones or other electronic devices.”
Under the new policy, while high school students will still be allowed to have their cell phones on them or in their lockers, they will not be allowed to use them during school hours. The new policy will also require elementary school students to check in their cell phones with their teacher at the beginning of the school day. The phones would then be returned to the students at the end of the school day.
“The policy still allows high school students to use electronic audio devices during Study Hall,” stated Holen.
In other business, the school board:
• Was informed that the district’s enrollment as of Sept. 14 was 540 students.
• Was informed that the district was moving forward with offering an Instant Alert System whereby parents would be notified by either text messages or telephone calls of school closings or other emergency messages through an automated system. The cost of the system is anticipated to be $1,403 annually.
• Approved submitting the Certificate of Compliance to the North Dakota Dept. of Public Instruction.
• Approved hiring Joy Patten as a first grade teacher under the Title IIA Classroom Reduction Act at a salary of $36,825.
• Approved hiring Laura Norton as the head cook at the high school at a salary of $14.05 per hour.
• Approved hiring Jennifer Hovland as an assistant cook/dishwasher  at the high school at a salary of $9 per hour for a six-hour day.
• Approved hiring Jamie Pittsley as an elementary school aide at $8.25 per hour for a 7½ hour day.
• Approved an open enrollment agreement from Ken Wilcox of Alexander to allow his daughter, Brenda, to attend Watford City High School.
• Was informed by Sherry Lervick, elementary school principal, that any student who was absent or tardy from the elementary school more than 12 times in a semester would be reported to the Social Services office as being truant. According to Lervick, the policy would provide for extenuating circumstances such as funerals and vacations.
The next meeting of the McKenzie County Public School District No. 1 school board will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 12.