Posted on

District closing in on operating debt free

Lake Holcombe School Annual Meeting/Board Meeting

By Ginna Young

“Two more payments to go and then the Lake Holcombe School District is essentially debt free.”

That’s what superintendent Kurt Lindau reported at the Lake Holcombe School Board annual meeting Oct. 26, as finances were discussed for the district. There are three payments left on the unfunded pension liability, which is non-referendum debt. After the district makes their principal interest payment of $63,845 this year, there will be only two payments to go for debt-free status.

It’s a good thing, as Lake Holcombe saw yet another reduction in state aid.

“I think we’ll continue to see about a 15 percent reduction every year,” said Lindau.

District accountant Lisa Spletter reported that Fund 10 ended the year with a surplus of just over $279,000, because of an unfilled psychologist position and lesser operations from the spring school closure.

“Our fund balance in Fund 10, is sufficient amount that we do not have to short-term borrow at this time, for cash flow purposes,” she said.

The tax levy for 2020-21, is set at $3.93 million, as the district estimates revenues of $6.5 million and expenditures of $6.7 million. The 8.80 mill rate remains unchanged from last year.

Also discussed, was the annual board salary, which members agreed to leave the same.

“It’s kind of a different thing when no one else from the community is here to do that,” said board president Brian Guthman.

The board also set next year’s annual meeting for Monday, Oct. 25, at 6 p.m.

Moving to the regular meeting that followed, Lindau discussed how the district is handling in-person learning during COVID- 19. Obviously, students and staff wear face masks, and social distance when possible, but there’s more to it than that.

Lindau says, so far, the district has maneuvered its way through positive cases in the district and said he greatly appreciates their substitute staff. Lake Holcombe has had four cases of COVID-19 associated with the district and 13 close contacts, necessitating quarantines.

One of the biggest obstacles, is making sure students quarantined are keeping up with their lessons and homework.

“Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the student to make sure they’re completing their work,” said Lindau.

For now, there are no plans to go to a virtual model or early release, but Lindau did receive permission from the board to “switch up” the school calendar if needed.

“We all need to be ready to switch to a virtual platform within a day or so notice,” said Lindau.

The district will also attempt to have staff teach from home virtually, if possible, in the event they are quarantined.

“Some job classifications and duties do not allow for virtual work,” said Lindau.

Some exceptions are phy ed and tech ed classes, while Lindau also mentioned trying to plan how the food program would run if all three kitchen staff are quarantined.

“Actually, we have kind of worked out an agreement with Cornell, that if they go down, we’ll help them out, if we go down – we try and help each other out,” said Lindau, adding that some staff members may not feel well enough to teach, even virtually.

Teaching assignments will taken into consideration on a case-by-case basis.

Lindau also reported that $50,000 worth of fab lab equipment was purchased, through funding received from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Grant the school received earlier this year. With the purchase, the district is readying the lab to be retrofitted.

“So, we’re excited about what that has in store,” said Lindau.

Because visitors are limited at the school, those in charge are planning for the annual Veterans Day program, with the music department scheduling selections to be virtual.

Lindau also asked the district to recognize that it is National Principal’s Month in October, and principal Mark Porter has been with Lake Holcombe for 21 years.

“Please remember to thank Mr. Porter for his hard work and dedication to the Lake Holcombe School District,” said Lindau. “It was a tough summer and hard fall, so far… a new principal would not have survived.”

In board business, members approved the hire of social emotional learning paraprofessional Jordan Geist; educational interpreter Erika Freezy; guidance counselor Nicole Crosby; and after-school academic adviser Savannah Sandberg.

They also accepted $69.80 from Eastbay Lodge, to the music department; $500 from the Lake Holcombe Lions Club, to Kent Dorney for the hydroponics class, and $250 to Kelsey Linley, to purchase cultural diversity classroom books; $10 from the Dorney family, to the after-school program; $100 from Todd and Sarah Sauerwein, to the football program; $100 from Jack and Jeanne Keegan, to the football program; 30 spray bottles and 18 thermometers, from the Town of Ruby; and $5,000 from Ladysmith Federal Savings, to help cover COVID-19-related expenses.

As a notice to the public, the regular November monthly meeting has been changed to Wednesday, Nov. 11, at 6 p.m.