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North Dickinson grows its school fund balance

FELCH TOWNSHIP — Less than a decade after financially being in the red by more than $120,000, the North Dickinson County School District has grown its general fund balance to almost $350,000.

Michael Roell, finance/athletic director, told the school board this week the district has managed to rebound from the $122,286 deficit of 2012 to have a general fund of $348,784 after its most recent audit through June 30.

“We were able to turn things around fairly quickly,” Roell said, noting the district managed to grow its general fund annually, by small and larger gains, in the past seven years.

The current amount represents about 13 to 14% of the district’s annual expenditures, “which is very good for us; we’re in good shape there,” said Roell, adding that auditors Anderson, Tackman & Company of

Iron Mountain recommend having about 15% in reserve.

One major challenge remains the district’s enrollment, which since 2010 has dropped from 325 to 251, with decreases of about 8.5 pupils every year except 2017, which rose by a single student. While state aid is figured on a three-year average, it still over time takes a toll on the district’s budget, Roell said.

He predicts district enrollment will level off at about 250 students, or about 20 pupils in each of the 13 class levels.

He also advised against the district getting too wild on spending, saying it could easily find itself in a similar hole if not careful.

In other business, the board:

— Said yes to the Class of 2020 senior trip to the Minneapolis area, starting late May 21 and returning May 26. For education, the group plans to visit the aquarium connected to the Mall of America and/or the Como Park Zoo and Conservancy in St. Paul, plus a trampoline park and possibly a paintball venue, seniors Maysn Alexa and Grace Mattson told the board. The group of about 20 students plus five chaperones will stay in a large duplex house that will allow them to have family-style breakfasts and dinners. The class has raised enough to cover the trip and still be able to give back to the school, cover prom and graduation expenses and have reunions in the future, they said.

— Authorized hiring Ronnie Collier as a temporary substitute support staff.

Betsy Bloom can be reached at 906-774-2772, ext. 240, or bbloom@ironmountaindailynews.com.

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