Strategic plan progress gauged by the numbers

Superintendent’s Corner By Julie Espe
Superintendent’s Corner
By Julie Espe

Princeton – As part of our Strategic Plan, I went to the schools to talk to our staff.  My last three articles gave you a portion of the presentation. Here is part four.
Fund balance history
To explain our fund balance history, I need to clarify some language first:
•Unassigned is the operating account for the district.  This account pays for most employees, maintenance, utilities, etc.  Think of it as our checking account.
•Assigned is the fund that the school board has set aside for specific projects, such as the ones coded to supplement our referendum/construction costs, program initiatives, technology, Q Comp (teachers’ alternative compensation plan) or extra-curricular activities.
•Restricted is the account that is restricted by Minnesota State Statute and may only be used for the purpose the state has set.  These accounts are long term facility maintenance, operating capital, gifted and talented, staff development, and severance commitments.
We have a board policy that requires us to have a 10% fund balance.  We actually have 13% in that account, which indicates our school board’s commitment to be fiscally conservative. This fund balance also helps us with cash flow as the district is managed.
The District’s total budget will be decreasing this year, since our referendum funds are almost gone and so are our assigned funds.
Full time teacher summary
Occasionally I will hear someone say that we have had significant cuts in our teachers over the past few years. We actually have more teachers, not fewer.  The truth is that the teachers are in different categories, not fewer in numbers. Some of the areas where teachers have been added are in the Primary and Intermediate Schools due to an increase in enrollment, in online learning, in Care and Treatment students and at the Area Learning Center. In 2014-15, we had 216 full time teachers, and in 2016-2017, we have 223.
Class size range guidelines
In the springs of 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, the school board adopted the class size range guidelines for the next fiscal year.  Here are the guidelines:
•Kindergarten     19-21
•1st Grade        20-23
•2nd/3rd Grade    22-25
•4th/5th Grade    23-26
•6th-8th Grade    25-30
•9th-12th Grade   25-30
We have been successful keeping the class sizes within these guidelines, looking at averages.
Next steps
As we move forward, I will be doing a podcast for my next superintendent update. I will be giving our staff an update on our Strategic Plan goals.  I plan to do this two times before the end of the school year.
We have so much good news in our District!  Stay tuned for the next article.