School Board Notes 2.21.2023

February 21 Meeting Highlights

The minutes from the February 21, 2023 meeting will be reviewed and approved by the School District 197 School Board at the Monday, March 6, 2023 meeting. For more information about meeting agendas and minutes, please CLICK HERE.

Action Item - Approval of Agenda
The motion carried (7-0).

Action Item - Approval of Consent Agenda
The motion carried (7-0).

Comments to the School Board
No one attended.

FY 2021-2022 Audit Presentation
Brian Schultz, Director of Finance, introduced James Eichten, CPA and Managing Partner with MMKR (Malloy, Montague, Karnowski, Radosevich & Co., P.A.) who presented the FY 2021-2022 audit results.  An audit of the district’s general fund is required to be prepared annually by an independent firm and is submitted by MMKR to the Minnesota Department of Education and the State Auditor’s office. During the audit process, MMKR also reviews the student activity funds and financial management making sure the district has the right procedures in place.

Mr. Eichten reported that his firm has given the district an unmodified or “clean” opinion of the district’s basic financial statements. The district has received this rating in previous audits.  In past audits, the auditors found the district’s internal controls to be well designed, implemented, and functioning properly.  One of the audit’s regular findings (and again this year) is related to segregation of duties in the district’s finance and payroll departments.  Though this finding could be addressed through hiring additional staff, the district continues to prioritize resources to the classroom and addresses this finding through additional process controls. There was one additional finding related to the prompt payment of invoices and the finance staff will work with the various departments towards more timely submissions. No other findings were reported on the compliance part of the audit.

Mr. Eichten went over the financial part of the audit and stated that the district continues to be in a stable financial position and the financial results reflect adherence to the budget.  The full audit report will be available on the district’s website at

American Indian Education Program Update
Peter Mau, Assistant Superintendent, and Kevin Sheridan, Educational Equity Coordinator, and Nicole McMahon, AIPAC Chair, presented an update on the district’s American Indian Education Program.  Each year, the administration is required to submit an American Indian Education Plan to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) related to the American Indian Education Aid the district receives. The plan includes goals, and strategies to achieve those goals.  Plan requirements also include certifying that the school district worked collaboratively with the American Indian Parent Advisory Committee (AIPAC) in the development of the plan and submitting a roster of AIPAC members.  Minnesota Statute requires that all Minnesota districts with 10 or more American Indian students have an AIPAC.  These requirements have been met.

The goals of the plan are to increase educational access and opportunity for the district’s American Indian students in order to increase their academic achievement and graduation rates; and improve the school climate for PreK-12 American Indian students through both intra and inter cultural awareness and the cultural relevance of materials, programs and activities.

A school district enrolling at least 20 American Indian students on October 1 of the previous school year is eligible for Indian Education Aid from the state.  This year, the student count is 84 which provides $42,912 in funding to the school district.  The funding helps with supporting postsecondary preparation for American Indian students; supporting their academic achievement; making curriculum relevant to the needs, interests and cultural heritage of students; providing positive reinforcement of students’ self-image; and developing cultural awareness among students, parents and staff.

2022-2023 accomplishments include the purchase of American Indian books, Buffalo Robes and Teepee, and a summer backpack distribution to American Indian students.

There has been turnover in the American Indian Liaison position.  One resigned mid-year in the 21-22 school year.  A new person was hired in late spring but resigned in early October. The position was posted and was offered to a candidate in December but the offer was turned down.  It has again been posted as a full-time position.

American Indian Parent Advisory Committee
Peter Mau, Assistant Superintendent, and Kevin Sheridan, Educational Equity Coordinator, and Nicole McMahon, AIPAC Chair, presented an update from the American Indian Parent Advisory Committee (AIPAC).  Minnesota Statute requires that all Minnesota districts with 10 or more American Indian students have an AIPAC.  This committee serves in an advisory role to the school district and helps ensure that the American Indian students are receiving culturally relevant and equitable educational opportunities.  The AIPAC must meet and vote on concurrence or non-concurrence, meaning that the AIPAC concurs or does not concur that the School Board and district are complaint with MN Statutes.  The committee has submitted a vote of non-concurrence and offered recommendations for improvement.  Those include making the liaison position full-time with benefits to make it more appealing to candidates; use achievement and integration funds to help pay for the other 50% of the position leaving more of the main budget to spend on students; put more action into the district’s plan to attract, hire and retain BIPOC staff; have a work plan for the first 6 months on the job that clearly outlines the priorities and objectives; and work with the AIPAC to spend down all of the funds so none are left in the budget for the following year.

Achievement and Integration Plan and Budget
Peter Mau, Assistant Superintendent, presented the Achievement and Integration (A&I) Plan and Budget. The purpose of this budget is to pursue racial and economic integration, increase student achievement, create equitable educational opportunities, and reduce academic disparities based on students’ diverse backgrounds. The overall budget of $1,053,807.17 requires that at least 80% be spent on direct student services, no more than 20% on professional development and no more than 10% on administrative costs.  Use of the funds must align to the goals and strategies outlined in the approved plan.  In order to be eligible for funds, School District 197 must partner with another school district on integration efforts – St. Paul Public Schools.  Major initiatives funded by A&I include Parent Academy; AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination; Cultural Liaisons and interpreting/translating services; Magnet Schools; culturally relevant professional development and curriculum; and integration activities. Specifics in the goals include getting more students enrolled in at least one rigorous course; increase the percentage of licensed staff of color; and increase the graduation rate.   This year, Pilot Knob STEM Magnet School has been identified as a “racially identifiable school” which is when a school has 20 percentage points more protected students than the district average for the school district in the grade band.  Their plan will include more out of school time integration activities, partnered with one or more other School District 197 schools.  Budget changes for the 23-24 school year will include moving the liaison position to 40 hours per week, increase in salary and benefits and a reduction in professional development to help compensate for the overall decrease in the budget’s revenue.

General Fund Budget Framework and Update for FY 2023-2024
Brian Schultz, Director of Finance, presented the proposed FY 23-24 General Fund Budget Framework.  The budget framework is used as a guiding document for building the fiscal year 2022-2023 budgets.  It consists of the strategic framework focus areas; assumptions for enrollment, funding and expenditures; and parameters that are used to develop and guide the budget process. The framework is consistent with what was used last year with some adjustments to partially address inflation.  Parameters include:

  • No changes to attendance area boundaries
  • No changes to transportation fees
  • Building allocation amounts for purchased services and supplies will increase by 4%
  • Co-curricular allocation amounts for purchased services and supplies will increase by 4%
  • Staff allocations for budget development will be based on the February 1, 2023 projected enrollment for 2023-2024
  • No changes to staffing ratios

School districts received emergency federal relief funding to support many of the things that arose from the pandemic.  All funds will be used by the end of this school year other than approximately $300K for summer programming that will be used in FY23-24.  Funding for positions that were hired as a result of COVID to support schools and students, will end after this school year.  However, there is a plan to retain some of these positions for FY24. Budget estimates are being developed but there are still many unknowns from the current legislative session.  More budget discussions with the board will take place in the spring. This framework will be brought back to the March 6, 2023 School Board meeting for approval as part of the consent agenda.  Overall district budget approval will be in June.

The motion carried (7-0).