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Collins: A-R finances in good shape

By Staff | Aug 27, 2008

“We have reason to celebrate.”

That was the message that Armstrong-Ringsted Community School District Superintendent Randy Collins had for the A-R Board of Education Monday night. Collins was speaking to the fact that A-R was not on a list of 60 Iowa schools exceeding spending authority. And, while Collins that for the past two years the district has operated according to past practices, he told staff in a recent meeting that spending will be based on revenues.

Armstrong-Ringsted is in fact building its spending authority, determined by a formula set by the state. A big reason for that is that the district has used both the School Infrastructure Local Option tax and the state penny sales tax to pay for “bricks and mortar” projects without having to tap general fund revenues.

That’s necessary, given the fact that A-R shares the same malady as other similar-sized districts – declining enrollment.

Collins said last year’s spending authority was based on 355 students while this school year is based on 342.2 students. Oct. 1 will be the official count day for spending authorization for the 2009-10 budget year. State projections peg that number at 330 students, Collins said.

Collins cautioned though that the district year-end cash balance decreased from $1.2 million two years ago to $440,000 for the current year.

“One more year of that, we would be on that list next year,” Collins said of districts exceeding state spending authority.

On a related note, Collins said the fact that the district is sharing a director of maintenance with the City of Armstrong has helped bring in added state aid under a program outlined in Senate File 447.

The board also Monday night approved another 28E agreement to share Nate Hansen as director of maintenance with Sentral Community School District. The Sentral Board of Education will vote on the agreement at its September board meeting.

“It can get us through a couple tough years,” Collins said of the agreement.

Another factor that is helping district finances is legislation passed in the last Iowa Assembly session taking the added penny sales tax statewide, something that gave the district another $80,000 yearly.

“We’re being proactive,” Collins said. “We’re keeping our facilities updated.” Collins said the district will hold an open house in the near future to highlight its industrial technology program and other innovations.

“Those are the things that we need to do to attract people into the community,” Collins said. “We’re going to reinvest it (revenue) in our programs. We’re going to have a world-class, 21st century school.”

In other business Monday night, the board heard a report from Hansen, activities director, on fall sports which he said had good participation. Hansen also credited the Booster Club with buying needed equipment. Hansen also gave his report as transportation director.

Principal Matt Berninghaus updated the board on interactive white board/hanging projectors, road signs and closing the street in front of the school in Armstrong, swimming at the new pool for the PE class, and the pre-kindergarten program.

In other business, Collins termed the resignation of Kathy Preston “a tremendous loss to the district.” Preston recently took the position as Emmet County Public Health director. Collins said that the district has “already received several quality applications.”

In other business the board:

n Appointed Board President Rod Foster as Iowa Association of School Board Action Network member.

n Appointed Foster as IASB assembly delegate.

n Approved Hansen as junior high assistant football coach.

n Approved early retirement for Kathy Morkin effective at the end of the 2008-09 school year.

n Approved Rick Fox as full-time route driver in Ringsted.

n Approved purchase of a 2007 Impala for $17,350.