School resource officer Jon Cline shown dancing in the McGregor auditorium

Fifth and sixth graders danced with enthusiasm at the recent dance in the McGregor auditorium. School resource officer Jon Cline and other staff members joined in the fun.

At the Nov. 22 regular meeting of the McGregor School Board, board members voted to accept “with gratitude” a gift of $22,000 from the McGregor Lions Club.

The funds are earmarked for teachers ($2,000),library books ($5,000), boys sports ($5,000), girls sports ($5,000) and $5,000 for the arts program.

“This is pretty wonderful,” said Chair Larry Doten.

AUDIT FINDINGS

The district’s financial audit was presented via Zoom. The audit firm offered an unmodified opinion, meaning there were no serious infractions or problems.

One internal control finding was lack of segregation of accounting duties, the same finding as last time.

“This is more common than not in school districts the size of McGregor, and even in many larger districts, because of small staff sizes ad people wearing several hats,” said the auditor.

Because the district spent $750,000 in federal funding, two programs had to have a separate audit. This year, the programs audited were childhood nutrition and 21st century learning. There were no findings related to either program.

FINANCIAL ANALYSIS

There was an increase in the formula allowance of 2% and another 2.5% is calculated for 2022.

Enrollment decreased in the McGregor district by 20 students in the 2020-2021 school year; but over the past several years it has been fairly stable. Open enrollment has had that effect on the district; this is fairly common and is exacerbated by the effects of COVID-19.

The ISD#4 General fund revenue increased about $304,000, including federal revenue and COVID-19 grants.

Revenues and expenditures were revised downward, leading to a decrease in the expected deficit.

Fund balances ended up decreasing expenditures, which were very close to budget. One exception was that the budget for instructional support was over budget due to more hours and distance learning costs.  

A bus purchase was in the budget and ended up not happening.

The district’s policy is to keep about three months of expenditures aside, and that number was right on target.

The revised budget was approved unanimously by board members.

HUMAN RESOURCES

Shelly Wallin’s retirement was approved as of Nov. 30, 2021. Wallin was a full-time paraprofessional.

Zach Hawkinson’s contract was approved for the Jr. High boys basketball coach position for the 2021-2022 season.

Danielle Fritz was approved as the new speech coach for 2021-2022 season.

APPROVAL OF NON-CERTIFIED AFSCME CONTRACT

Changes included insurance for bus drivers — 80% was requested and that dollar amount was approved, but not as a percentage.

Also, changes were approved in the hours for bus drivers; they will be guaranteed hours and given other jobs at the school if necessary to meet their hours.

Other districts are doing the same kinds of things to hire and retain bus drivers, Superintendent Brad Johnson told board members.

Among the contract changes, bus drivers’403b caps for deferred compensation were increased.

Article 17 of the contract specified that bus drivers would be paid at the regular rate for extra-curricular bus driving. Section 14 guarantees activity bus drivers a minimum of two hours for driving for activities. That has been the practice but was added to the contract.

The district’s van drivers have a new salary schedule at the substitute bus driver rate. When making trips of more than four hours, drivers will get a $10 meal allowance. The activity bus started running on Nov. 29, and will run Monday-Thursday.

Jim Latterel was approved as a bus driver.

The ALP support person salary agreement was approved for class five of the AFSCME contract rather than at the paraprofessional rate.

MOUS WITH STAFF

Superintendent Brad Johnson said, “We have had a great staff at McGregor over the past 1.5 years.  It is  starting to feel the stress of all the extra work associated with pandemic response.

“The district wants to provide a retention and recruitment incentive to recognize that.” Staff members are leaving schools around the country and we want to incentivize our staff to ensure they continue to want to work with us.  We want to use some federal ESR funds to give a $500 bonus on Dec. 10 and another $500 on June 10, to be forfeited if the staff person leaves during that time.”

Three memoranda of agreement were approved for this one-time payment for staff, contracted employees and substitute teachers.

SOME ACTIVITIES RESUME

An elementary and junior high play is being planned this year.

On Nov. 29, a PBIS awards program recognized students of the month.

There was a school dance for the elementary students during the week of Nov. 15. It went well and has had more than 17,000 views of the Facebook Live video.  Johnson thanked officer Cline for being a good sport and dancing with the students.

COVID-19 UPDATE

There were six COVID-19 cases in elementary the week of Nov. 15-19, one staff person and five students in two classrooms. If a third classroom is affected, elementary school classrooms will be asked to mask up.

The school has been going through a lot of COVID-19 tests for families who want to come in and do a rapid test at no cost.

The state of Minnesota is paying for the tests.

IN OTHER BUSINESS

Building construction should be able to proceed soon, when an expected steel delivery arrives. Anthony Pierce gave an update on the bus garage design.

Additional mental health resources are being identified to help students and families who need them. Conflict resolution is a major issue with elementary students who need help learning to regulate their emotions.

The district is requesting an additional social worker or mental health position to be funded with ESR3 funds. It won’t cost the district, but would be a two or three year full-time position.

UPCOMING MEETINGS

The next regular meeting was changed from Dec. 27 to Dec. 20 to accommodate holidays.

Dec. 6 from 4-5 p.m. is currently scheduled as a meet and confer date.

Recently Superintendent Johnson met with the attorneys to see if there was a need to meet and confer.

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