Archived Story

District budget lean, includes Holton curriculum

Published 10:30am Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Austin Public Schools are facing a lean budget forecast for the 2013/2014 fiscal year.

“That’s not great, that’s not terrible,” Director of Finance and Operations Mark Stotts said of the outlook. “The capital fund always gets stretched really thin.”

The board approved its capital budget at a Monday evening meeting. Stotts told the board in a memo the district will have a total operating capital revenue of about $1.46 million. Unlike this year, the upcoming year will not have to account for an $80,000 high school smart boards cost and will have approximately half the amount of building improvement costs. Instead, it will add $250,000 for curriculum at the new I.J. Holton Intermediate School.

Separately, the board decided to approve its integration revenue budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which largely goes toward the Success Coach program. The exact amount the state grant the district is yet to be seen, said Integration Coordinator Kristi Beckman

“I am hoping with fingers crossed that we’ll be hearing good news out of this legislative session,” she said.

The money will also be geared toward addressing Sumner Elementary School’s status as a racially isolated site. The Minnesota Department of Education will send directions to the district on how to address a disproportionately large percentage of non-white student at Sumner.

Holton students to receive laptops

The first class of students to attend the I.J. Holton Intermediate School this fall will find themselves each the holder of a brand new Lenovo ThinkPad.

“We were able to fund laptop computers for every student,” Holton Principal Jean McDermott.

Students will carry a small, durable, $900 laptop for use in school and at home. Families can purchase $55 insurance plans that will cover lost, damaged or stolen laptops. Alternatively, they may choose to use their personal insurance or place a $900 refundable deposit to cover any damages that may come up.

The laptops will have access restrictions to help prevent children from browsing adult content.

“Are the laptops going to be necessary for kids to do homework and get things done at home?” Board Member Kathy Green said.

McDermott said the work students will do can be done without laptops, but the technology will allow them to do assignments more efficiently.

Ellis pool naming on hold

The board made a unanimous motion to delay naming the Ellis Middle School pool after Albert “Bud” Higgins. A head swim coach at Austin High School for 21 years, Higgins was honored with a spot in the Minnesota Swimming Hall of Fame in 1986. The board’s naming policy requires 100 signatures for a building or facility to be named, which have not yet been gathered.

Other business

During the meeting, the school board also:

—Approve about $9,800 in gifts the district received from 16 donors between Jan 14 and Feb. 6.

—Recognized Inclusive Schools poster contest winners Jessica Hillman and Kelsey Swanson.

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