THE GRAPH shows the improvement of Big Lake School’s general fund reserves, given their audit of 2012-13 finances this week. See more graphs inside.

Schools finances improving

Gary W. Meyer


 Big Lake School’s financial condition continues to improve.
   Those were the words of Matt Meyer of Kern, DeWenter, Viere, LTD, the district’s auditing firm, to the Big Lake Board of Education Tuesday as he  reviewed his audit for the School Year 2012-13, ending June 30.
   Big Lake’s financial condition has improved because the district has received more money in which to operate, they have held a lid on expenditures - and most importantly, their  general fund balance rose that year from ($828,406) to $5,387,156.
(Due to lack of funding, most of it withheld state education aids, the district experienced general fund balances ranging from $2,741,228 in 2009-10 to $549,114 in 2011 and $494,198 in 2011, before bottoming out in 2012.)
   But the state funding was kick-started in 2012 after having been frozen at $5,124 per pupil unit for several years. That year, it went to $5,174 and in 2013, was boosted to $5,224. (It is expected to climb to $5,302 in 2014 and then to $5,806 in 2015.)
The gains have been made in spite of the fact the district’s student population has gone down from an average daily weighted 3,749 in 2009 to 3,686 in 2013.
   District general fund revenue has climbed from $27,028,103 in 2009 to $29,721,907 in 2013.
Of the total revenue, $25,670,339 comes from state aids, $2,691,385 from local property taxes, $598,000 from local and county revenues and approximately $520,000 from federal and other sources.
Spending was tightened also during the past year. General fund expenditures were $483,373 under budget. In fact, Meyer reported, all programs were under budget, except for vocational eduction instruction and fiscal and other fixed costs programs expenditures, amounting to about $6,700.
Elementary and secondary regular instruction, at $13,986,766, comprised the largest share (48%) of the general fund budget of $29,721.907. Other large shares were special education, $5,003,384, 17%; instructional support services, $2,150,262, 7%; pupil support services, $2,417,934, 8%, administration $1,316,429, 5%, and sites and buildings, $3,064,452, 11%.
   There were two negatives to the audit report, Meyer noted. The food service fund, which underwent considerably less use, decreased by $36,887. Revenues were $1,463,422, while expenditures were $1,500,320. That was due to fewer meals served due to new federal nutrition requirements. The food service fund still had a balance of $135,084 at year’s end.
Also, the community service fund experienced a loss of $26,842. Revenues from classes and activities were $1,680,162 while expenditures were $1,707,004.
It was noted that student population has begun to rise slightly this year, but any building project to handle additional students should be at least five years out.


(From left) Lexi Freund (Big Lake), Betsey Cornelius and Ben Cornelius (Nowthen), Gunner Dorweiler and Colton Dorweiler (Princeton), Ben Manning (Zimmerman), Bailey Dorweiller (Princeton) and Salene Krueger (Big Lake.) The county fair runs from July 16-19. (Photo by Ken Francis.)

Dr. Lola Sutherland is retiring from clinical practice after 33 years in the Big Lake community. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards.)

SMITTY’S AMATEUR FIDDLERS CONTEST drew 22 musicians to compete in Big Lake this year. They were accompanied by Gilmore Lee.

LEE GERHARDSON, 47, from New London, was found dead in Big Lake near the swimming beach in 10 feet of water Monday. Cause of death is unknown at this time but foul play is not suspected.

Adopt-a-Road participants volunteer for Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and work to clean roadsides that border and bisect refuge land. This spring, from April to June, approximately six individuals, three families, and seven groups, such as boy and girl scouts and 4-H groups, volunteered to clean countless miles of roads. (Submitted photo.)