Final school budget numbers should be favorable

Chuck Kajer, Managing Editor

The final budget numbers for the 2007-08 school year should be favorable, according to an update given to the New Prague Area School Board by the district's finance director Dan Pyan.

Pyan, speaking at the July 28 school board meeting, said that the preliminary numbers indicate the district spent $373,000 less than had originally been budgeted for the year that ended June 30. That and some higher than expected revenues resulted in an unreserved fund balance of $542,000, which is 1.8 percent of the budget. The fund balance projection had been only $30,484, but the district enacted a number of measures during the final months of the school year to bring that number up to a goal of about 1 percent of the budget.

Superintendent Craig Menozzi told the board that Pyan would give budget updates to the board at the second meeting of each month.

School within a School

High School principal Tom Doig and teacher Georgia Meskan reported to the board on the School Within a School program. The program started last year in an effort to help students who were in danger of not graduating recover credits and improve testing skills so that they would pass the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment tests that the state will be requiring for graduation.

Doig explained that he and Meskan spent two years researching different programs to find what they needed, and when they couldn't find one model they liked, they took the best features of several different programs. The program replaced the Learning Lab program that Meskan had supervised since the current high school opened in 1998.

They said that they had big hopes for the program, and that while some of the early results were mixed, they made changes to the program as the year went on.

One feature that will be added to the program this year is a remediation program for students who fail one of the MCA exams. This is a new state requirement.

The School Within a School program stresses core curriculum subjects such as language arts, social studies and math, with several teachers working with the students in their subject area. For instance, a certified math teacher works with students who need help in math. That wasn't available under the Learning Lab program.

Grad requirement change

Doig also asked the board to make 10th grade biology a required course for students to graduate, beginning with this year's incoming freshman class. He said the state would be requiring that change within the next few years, and that the new MCA science exam will be covering much of the material that is part of the curriculum. The board will place the item on the agenda for its August 11 meeting.

Also at Monday's meeting:

• The board approved the annual Health and Safety performance criteria as presented by Operations Director Tim Rybak. The document is a checklist of health and safety items that need to be addressed.

• The board approved a policy allowing employees to opt into a VEBA insurance plan, which has a higher deductible and a lower cost.

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