Summer update

Even though school officially ended for the 2018-2019 school year on May 31, things continue to be busy in and around our school sites this summer. There are a few updates I thought might be good to share.

One of our main tasks during the summer is finalizing our school district budget, as well as our facilities and maintenance plans for the next school year — in this case, for the 2019-2020 school year. District office staff have been working diligently putting together the budget for next year, especially since the legislative session concluded and we know what policy and funding changes are going to be in place. At the June school board meeting, the school board approved a budget for the general fund that included revenue of $30,249,650 and expenditures of $30,545,742 for a slight deficit budget of $296,092.

In terms of facilities planning for next year, school districts are required to have what is called a Long-Term Facilities Maintenance Plan (or LTFM) in place. This plan essentially outlines which facility projects will be completed each school year for the next 10 school years. Our LTFM planning includes “routine” and ongoing maintenance such as replacing carpet, working on parking lots, re-roofing buildings, painting rooms, and making safety and air quality improvements. Through LTFM revenue that our district receives each year, we plan out the next ten years’ worth of facilities projects and include which year we anticipate each project will be completed. Work at all of our sites will take place over the summer and during the 2019-2020 school year, as we strive to keep our buildings updated and in good working order.

Planning and “behind-the-scenes” work is well underway for the safety and security projects at West Side and the Middle School. We were fortunate enough to receive two grants to complete significant safety and security projects at each of these sites, and the majority of the physical — and often more “visual” — work will start after July 1 when the schematics, detailed plans, and technical documents are finished. A vast majority of the work for the school safety grant projects will be completed by Oct. 1, through grant dollars we were able to procure from the MN Department of Education.

Additionally, discussions and planning are now happening for work related to the May referendum, including the construction of a new elementary school for grades 2-4 (located on the Middle School campus), renovating and adding space onto Park Side Elementary for our Early Childhood Programs, and safety and security updates at Park Side, Marshall High School, and Marshall Area Technical Education Center. As you might imagine, there is quite a lot of designing and details that have to bein place before formal bids can be accepted and construction can actually start. Having said that, the designing and detailing work is underway with a Core Design Group meeting often to determine various aspects of the new elementary school. We anticipate actual construction of the new elementary to start in the spring of 2020, with the elementary and early childhood space ready for occupancy at the start of the 2021-2022 school year. We also received good news recently when the bonds were sold for the referendum-related projects — the interest rate for the bonds was significantly lower than what we anticipated and planned for. A lower interest rate, in this case, means a smaller tax impact (for district property owners) than what was projected and shared during communications and information sharing efforts. This was definitely welcome good news.

Finally, we ended the school year with 2,466 students enrolled in grades K-12. I anticipate we will receive funding for approximately 2,475 students in K-12 for the year — like in most school years, we saw a level of mobility with students coming and going each month, and we are funded for students’ “actual” number of days that they were enrolled in and attending school. Additionally, we had 185 students enrolled in our early childhood options/programs at the end of the school year as well.

The 2018-2019 school year marked the ninth consecutive year that student enrollment increased in the Marshall Public School District, and the trend of increasing enrollment is something we anticipate for at least the next 5 years. Unfortunately, many school districts in rural and southwest Minnesota have been experiencing declining enrollment, so we are fortunate to be able to talk about increased enrollment in our district. One can speculate on why student enrollment is increasing in Marshall, and I feel it is because of the strength of our community and all that it has to offer to families, businesses, and residents.

As always, I can be reached at Scott.Monson@marshall.k12.mn.us or you can call me at 507-537-6924 with any additional thoughts you have. Thank you for taking time to read this and for the support shown for the Marshall Public School District. Go Tigers!