School district continues to face tough financial times

By Emily Bialkowski
Caledonia Argus


Perhaps the most poignant item on the Caledonia School Board’s agenda Jan. 24 came during the superintendent’s report. “Right now I want to prepare you for the fact that we will have less revenue next year than we currently have this year. That’s the one thing I know for certain; the exact dollar amount I don’t have yet,” Ben Barton said.

At the root of the problem is declining enrollment and the fact that state aid is based on enrollment. If your student population goes down, so does your revenue.

Barton said, “We’re going to have to fill the gap by either increasing revenue or decreasing expenditures.”

The superintendent is trying to stay on top of the game by preparing an action plan. He and the district’s financial director, Barb Meyer, are creating lists of expected revenue and lists of expenditures based on what was budgeted for in 2012-13.

“My goal is to be as transparent as possible and to get as much input and feedback as possible,” he said, adding that concrete numbers may be available as early as next week. “We want to get the ball rolling and we want to do it right,” he said. “There are tough decisions ahead.”


Middle/high school scheduling process

In a related matter, middle/high school Principal Paul DeMorett and Counselor Judy Flaten gave a report on how the pre-registration process is going at the high school. This particular event is greatly impacted by budget issues.

The process allows students the opportunity to select preferred classes. Administration can then pick and choose which classes will be offered based on interest numbers.

For example, if 30 students want to take world history and only four students want to take anthropology, then it’s likely world history will be offered.

This process also allows administration to appropriately keep, decrease or increase staffing levels, the latter of which is highly unlikely.

Both Flaten and DeMorett said they felt the process was operating quite well. “We want to be finished at the end of March, and we’re on schedule so far,” DeMorett said.

Flaten added that experience also helps students plan their entire four years to make sure they are meeting all the requirements they need for graduation.


Music trip

Ross Martin, director of vocal music in Caledonia, addressed the board about April’s upcoming music trip to Chicago. Highlights of his presentation included the importance of this trip giving students a chance to perform. The choir will actually do a concert exchange at Sparta High School. The band will perform for a music professor in Chicago and then receive feedback.

While in Chicago the groups will see the Chicago Symphony, Blue Man Group, the Shedd Aquarium, a Broadway show and more. The cost of the trip for quad occupancy is $605.

Although very supportive of the trip, some board members expressed concern over the affordability of such a trip. “What will you do for the kids that can’t afford the $605?” asked Michelle Werner.

Martin admitted, “It’s tough,” adding that every student has the opportunity to raise money.

“So if they can’t afford it, they’re out?” Werner asked. The answer, unfortunately, is yes.

About 50 singers are going and 25 band members, with eight to nine chaperones.

“I think it’s a great opportunity, and thanks for providing it,” Kelley McGraw said.

The board extended unanimous approval.


Coaching contracts

The following spring coaching contracts were unanimously approved contingent on participation numbers:

Dave Konz, head baseball coach, at a rate of $2,947

Tom Schultz, assistant baseball coach, at a rate of $2,047

Zach Hauser, junior high baseball coach, at a rate of $1,834

Jeremy Leis, head boys golf coach, at a rate of $3,284

Jacquelyn Hauser, head girls golf coach, at a rate of $2,947

Mitch Mullins, assistant boys and girls golf coach, at a rate of $2,216

Carl Fruechte, head boys track coach, at a rate of $3,284

Reese Wait, head girls track coach, at a rate of $3,284

Eddie Hodges, boys and girls assistant track coach, at a rate of $1,879


Warrior Pride

The board recognized Brian Flick for his devotion and dedication in assisting with the Warrior football team for the past 29 years.

They similarly recognized Tory-Kale Schulz and the National Honor Society for their fundraising efforts to raise money for students to have milk at milk break at the elementary school.



The board approved a student discipline policy and also received a first look at policies regarding the “legal status of school district; name of the school district; equal education opportunity policy; complaints; and school district mission statement policy.”