WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) --     wwg — With declining enrollments and increasing costs Superintendent Loy Woelber recommended the board revoke and replace the voter approved levy. He noted while we are not in immediate danger of having to borrow short term money, the time may not be far down the road. He noted budget forecasts now show the district to be in a future budget shortfall of nearly $500,000.

    The deficit includes: an estimated pay raise and added insurance contributions; purchase of a new school bus; full time 2 section K-3; 2 section preschool; additional paras and instructors. Special ed costs continue to rise and reimbursement goes down 55 percent. Budget includes $72,000 in possible severance payments. Lunch program continues to operate in the red with free breakfasts (-$15,000) and Elementary snacks (-$9,000). Revenues have gone down with student losses but softened with sparsity revenue increases, compensatory increases and formula increases.

    Woelber says if we are to keep a healthy fund balance we need to be proactive in our voter approved levy.

    Woelber told the board if the preliminary budget figures are correct we will have to look at a minimum of $300,000 in cuts for fall of 2016.

    Woelber said “I would like to have Ehlers visit with us about a revoke and replace referendum this fall instead of 2019.” A motion to do that would have to be made by August 21. If the board decides to opt  to replace the current voter approved levy of $400,000, it can be increased to $750 per pupil, and the state will still share the cost at 50 percent. The local levy is not assessed to farm land, other than a home and one acre.

    The board approved a preliminary budget for 2015-2016 with revenues of $5,575,620 and expenditures of $6,156,384.

    Athletic director Leo Theisen showed a short film from the State High School League centered on what they are doing to get sports to be more about life lesson rather than just wins and losses. The film showed examples of Transactional Coaching which is centered about winning at all costs and self centered coaching. Transformational Coaching is centered about providing life experiences to all participants, and not just standout athletes. Leo felt more coaches he knows have been teaching transformational coaching as time goes on.

    Theisen said the new scoreboards should arrive before July 30 to provide time for them to be installed before volleyball starts.

    Principal Bill Richards gave the board a copy of end of year reports from the high school staff.

    Richards made a request for consideration on future direction of WWG. With numerous changes happening for the next school year, he  proposed that a visioning or goal setting committee be formed to consider the direction  and school goals. It has been about five years since it has been done.

    Ginny Barron made a motion to set up a committee to look at the direction and goals of the school. Motion carried.

    Richards also noted he would like to make some changes in the student handbook about absence policy, and cell phone policy.

He says too often parents do not call in or email the day of absence. He would like to have parents verify  the absence before allowing the student to return.

    With the advances in cell phone technology our policies about them really need to be upgraded. When cell phones are used improperly they can be a very dangerous piece of equipment. We need to better educate our kids in the use of cell phones. Parents are often part of the problem, they some times call their kids for no really important reason.

    Richards talked about  whether they should discontinue the National Honor Society. They have raised the membership dues from $80 to $300. He says “I don’t know if it is worth it for what we get out of it.” He noted that colleges seldom, if ever, even look at that on college applications.

    Richards noted he was looking at staffing changes to match reductions in enrollment.

    Superintendent Woelber told the board, it looks like we will be getting some new money from the state legislature. Capital outlay projects are on schedule. The  high school gym floor is finished and looks spectacular. The air conditioning has been completed in the high school auditorium, and was a nice addition for the Miss Westbrook Program.

    Board member Maydra Maas reported she had attended a MSBA superintendent review workshop. Maas also proposed a motion to start all board meetings with a pledge of allegiance. The motion was made by her and was passed unanimously.

    The following items were approved by the board:

    • Membership in MREA for 2015-16 school year ($1,261).

    • Direct the superintendent to obtain quotes for milk and bread products for 2015-16 school year.

    • Resignation of Cathy Baumann and Shannon Beck.

    • Hiring  of Jim Blahnik as special education instructor for the 2015-16 school year.

    • District literacy plan for 2015-16 school  year.

    • Hiring Emily Schoephoerster as social science instructor.

    • Leasing of handicapped accessible minibus to HLO for the 2015-16 school year.