Along with Minnesota school districts, the Wadena-Deer Creek school board approved the 2021-22 preliminary budget on June 7. The general fund has a $319,053 deficit.

With the uncertainty of enrollment, the district is planning a “conservative” approach, as Superintendent Lee Westrum and business manager Brian Jacobson said. The district is basing the budget on 1,035 students. The district is also working on applying the federal coronavirus funds, including more interventionists, creating smaller class sizes and additional technology.

The budget does not include salary increases as negotiations are ongoing. The district has about $10 million of payroll expenses, according to Jacobson. The budgeted expenses will increase by approximately $100,000 for salary increases of 1%.

“There is still much work to be done on the budget, including labor negotiation settlements to get a better handle on expenses, summer school, and other programs, which hopefully can get back to normalcy,” Jacobson said in his board report.

The budget will be revised in the fall.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

The board also:

  • Approved the hires of Mike Shrode (Robotics Advisor), Madison Johnson (Head Dance Coach) and Hannah Nelson (Elementary P.E. Teacher).

  • Approved the resignations of Terry Andrie (Custodian) and Jeffrey Umland (Elementary Paraprofessional).

  • Approved the non-renewals of Derek Dravis (Elementary Teacher) and Rebecca Frosig (Middle School Special Education Teacher).

  • Denied a leave of absence request for Sarah Steinkopf (Preschool Teacher). Steinkopf requested a year absence to teach English in Mexico with a missions group. She plans to go for the 2022-23 school year if approved by the board. The district follows the standard of five years of teaching before a leave of absence; Steinkopf is in her fourth year at WDC. Westrum said this is his first request since becoming superintendent in 2013.

  • Approved the district’s bills totaling $268,817.15.

  • Approved donations to the district of $4,300.

  • Decided to follow state guidance on not requiring masks at summer school and kids krew. Masks are required on school transportation. If the state guidance changes or there is an increase in local cases, masks could be needed, as Westrum said. The district nurses will continue contact tracing as positive cases are identified with school activities.

  • Approved the educational assistants contract. The contract includes a 1% salary increase along with a $750 yearly payment and increasing the health insurance policy by $500 a year.

  • Approved a memorandum of understanding with the teachers union to pay summer school teachers their regular hourly rate for this year.

  • Discussed a new video surveillance system for the middle/high school. Technology director Vince Hinojos and middle/high school principal Tyler Church said the current system requires watching long periods of footage to find the portion they’re looking for and the cameras do not work well. The board asked for more concrete costs on the project before approving it.

  • Approved the property and liability insurance with Employers Mutual Casualty Company, including an increase of the district’s umbrella coverage; and workers compensation insurance with First Dakota which is about $20,000 more than 2020-21.

  • Approved the cyber security policy with Tokio Marine.

  • Discussed a possible real estate transaction in a closed session.