by T.A. LeBrun
During the last Isle School Board regular meeting on Sept. 20, school administration disclosed that the school is approximately $666,000 short in revenue, and about $527,000 is needed to meet the $6 million dollar overall school budget.
Some big ticket expenditures include equipment, a school van, cyber insurance, reading curriculum, school management contract, testing material, contract renewals, and touchless sinks and toilets.
The board also set the preliminary maximum allowed levy at approximately $1.2 million. Last year’s levy was approximately $1 million.
School Superintendent Dean Kapsner said that year-to-date, the budget is $390,000 in the red but added that the final numbers are not in yet.
School board chair Jason Gallion noted that there is approximately $600,000 available in COVID money to help with the budget in qualifying areas.
Kapsner reported that the school is back in-person at five days per week and hopes that it will stay that way. He said that as of Sept. 20, there had only been one positive case, and the school used proper mitigation strategies. As of last week, Kapsner reported that the school has had very little COVID activity with four confirmed student cases and one staff case since the year began.
MCAs and student enrollment
Kapsner said that the MCA (Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment) was given to students for the first time in two years last spring and addressed the results with the caveat that test scores were down across the state due to pandemic-induced remote learning.
He said that in reading, the school experienced a 15 point drop since 2019, the last time the test was taken and that neighboring schools experienced similar results.
In math, the school experienced a slight uptick in scores. “In math, we had a one point increase and the state and neighboring schools had a decrease,” noted Kapsner. And in science, the school experienced a decline.
“You never know on any given date if the student is giving all their effort,” he said in regards to the MCA test. “For kids, it’s ‘so what’ with the MCA test. It’s just hoping they’re motivated to try their best.”
Student enrollment is up, stated Kapsner, and the gains were seen mostly in the secondary school (with a gain of five students) with some in the elementary and ALC. High School Principal Jeremy Schultz added, “People are coming out of the metro and coming north … so many communities are gaining kids.”
Elementary Dean of Students Melisa Maxwell said in regards to COVID, that for the most part, students are staying home when they’re sick and using physical distancing. “It’s good to see their faces, however,” Maxwell noted.
Maxwell said that the new reading curriculum is set up now and is very organized. She added that there are 28 total preschoolers and no additional sixth graders.
Athletic Director Tyler Soderstrom gave his report to the board and noted the high number of eighth graders (27) in football. He said there are 31 players total in varsity football. “We’ve never had numbers like we currently have in junior high,” said Soderstrom.
Varsity volleyball is off to a really good start as well, noted Soderstrom.
He said that the school is using smart cameras to livestream every game in the gym and for football and that WCMP has been covering the games as well.