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Superintendent's Report

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This is the time of the year when our district is on a downward descent in the current school year, yet – at the same time – is well underway planning for the next school year. There are several things I want to provide a brief update on.

Consolidation of the Cyrus School District and the Morris Area School District continues to move forward. A consolidation plat was approved by both School Boards and subsequently submitted to the Minnesota Commissioner of Education on Feb. 1. Staffing considerations for next year are in the preliminary discussion stages with hope of being finalized in April. Bills have been authored and introduced in both the House (House File 113) and Senate (Senate File 62) that would allow bonds to be sold to cover the costs of potential demolition of the Cyrus School, if it does not sell, with the bonds being repaid over a ten or eleven year period by current Cyrus residents.

It is likely that Independent School District #769 will be assigned a new ISD number by the Commissioner, and the district will go through a variety of legal changes. A variety of smaller, less visible, changes will likely take place prior to July 1, 2013; however – barring any unforeseen events – a newly consolidated district consisting of Morris Area and Cyrus will begin operating on that date.

Although the legislature and governor are still developing the State’s budget for the next biennium and what, if any, funding changes will be implemented for public schools, the preliminary 2013-2014 budget for the district is nearing completion. We are budgeting for a 1 percent increase in state funding, or approximately $55,000.

When this slight revenue increase is combined with projected enrollment, other revenue types, and expenditure increases, we will be looking at a deficit budget for 2013-2014. In other words, our projected expenditures will be higher than our projected revenue. As we develop long-range financial projections, recognizing that a trend of deficit budgets can only go on for so long will be an important consideration for the Finance Committee and the School Board as determinations about programming and staffing are made.

Students have a vast array of educational experiences in our district, and as much as we would like to, it is impossible to offer everything that we would like to offer within our budgetary constraints. Yet, it remains everyone’s goal to maintain what is currently offered, to make financially sound decisions, and to give appropriate consideration to potential additions or changes that may be possible or prudent.

Earlier this year, Morris Area Elementary School was named a “Celebration School” by the Minnesota Department of Education. This recognition is a reflection of the academic performance of our students and of the efforts put forth toward improving the academic performance of our students. The recognition was given to Title I schools that demonstrated excellence on the Multiple Measurement Rating (also known as the MMR) which measures student proficiency, student growth, and closing the achievement gap on statewide assessments.

MAES was initially identified as a “celebration eligible” school, meaning it was in the top 60th to 86th percentile of top performing schools based on its MMS. After an application process, MAES was selected as for the Celebration School Award. This is a special recognition, and we are proud of all of our students and staff for this accomplishment as well as recent year’s results on state assessments at all grade levels.

If you have questions about something or wish for additional information, feel free to contact me. I can be reached at (320) 589-4840 or smonson@morris.k12.mn.us.

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