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Budget revisions shows small deficit for Morris Area in 2011-2012

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MORRIS - The Morris Area School Board approved a final budget revision to the fiscal year 2011-2012 budget at their meeting Monday.

The district was projecting a surplus of about $94,000 for the general fund. The budget revision passed on Monday now includes a deficit of about $8,700. This is a result of an increase of about $90,000 in revenue and an increase of about $194,000 in expenditures.

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The district has established the practice of approving budget revisions after the yearly audit is complete, around November or December, and again near the end of the fiscal year in June.

The majority of the revenue increase for the year comes from about $87,000 in donations for remodeling projects, which were promptly spent on renovations to the Ag Room, accounting for a large percentage of the increase in expenditures for the year.

Other expenditure increases include $40,000 for elementary instructor salaries (which Monson told the board was a result of an accounting fix for designated funds and part of one salary being mis-coded in the original budget), $20,000 for elementary school substitute teachers, about $71,500 for severance pay, and $25,000 for tuition for College in the Schools (CIS) classes.

This year, the district offered more CIS classes and more students have enrolled than in years past. Just over 70 percent of all MAHS juniors and seniors have taken one or more CIS classes, "which is by far the highest that we've ever had," said Monson.

"Our staff is really doing a nice job of offering a variety of things to kids and they're taking advantage of it, which I think benefits them in a lot of ways but there's obviously an increase cost to the district," said Monson. "I see it as a win-win."

The majority of the other district funds, including food service and community education, remained relatively stable. The food service fund was projecting a surplus of about $28,000; the surplus reported in June's budget dropped to around $14,000.

The surplus in the community education fund increased just slightly from a $40,000 surplus in December's budget to a $41,000 surplus in June's budget.

New Language Arts curriculum approved

Both Morris Area High School and Morris Area Elementary School students will have new books and curriculum for English/language arts in the 2012-2013 school year. On Monday, the Morris Area School Board approved purchasing the new supplies as part of their recently-developed curriculum review cycle.

Students at MAES will use the "Treasures" reading series from McGraw Hill. MAES Principal Brad Korn said this was one of the few times he had seen total agreement between grade levels when selecting this reading series.

MAHS students will begin using the "Literature" series from Glencoe, and its companion writing/grammar book next year.

In his memo to the board, MAHS Principal Mike Coquyt said the previous textbooks - some from as far back as 1980 - were showing substantial wear and that many current English requirements could not be accomplished with the old books.

In the process of reviewing the language arts curriculum, the committee members adjusted which paperbacks are currently being taught and developed criteria for a new textbook. The new textbooks should have a balance of multicultural and gender fair texts, a balance of classic and modern authors, and a mixture of nonfiction and fiction writing.

Other business

• The board approved the period for filing affidavits of candidacy for school board elections. The filing period for the three seats on the board will be from July 31 to August 12.

• The board approved an agreement for transportation services with the Cyrus School District for the 2012-2013 school year for a total cost of $20,500.

• The board approved insurance premiums of $120,711 dollars with a new insurance company, EMC Insurance, based on a recommendation from Tom Noel of BW Insurance Agency of Morris.

• The district is in the process of interviewing candidates for an technology director/coordinator. Once that position is filled, the district will be able to move forward with developing a district technology plan.

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Kim Ukura
Kim Ukura has served as the editor of the Morris Sun Tribune since August 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota, Morris in 2008 with degrees in English and journalism. She earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2010. Prior to returning to Morris to work at the Sun Tribune, she worked in trade publishing. 
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