CROOKSTON SCHOOL BOARD APPROVES $200,000 TRANSFER OF FUNDS PENDING APPROVAL FROM THE MDE

The Crookston School Board held a special meeting on Thursday night inside the Crookston High School to discuss two items.

The first item was to approve a resolution for the transfer of funds pending approval of the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). Crookston Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Olson gave more insight into what funds could be transferred and why he recommended moving the funds. “We have two types of funds in school finance. One is a general fund, and the other is a community education fund. General fund can be used for anything by the school board, while the community education fund is much more restricted,” said Olson. “Traditionally, you can’t transfer community education funds to general funds, but because of COVID-19, we have a one-time opportunity to transfer funds from our education fund into our general fund. We’re going to take advantage of this by moving about $200,000 from our Early Childhood Family Education fund and move it over into our general fund.”

ECFE will not be affected by this decision as their operations will not be impacted and they will still have $30,000 left in their fund to operate.

By doing this, the school board will have more options with how they can utilize the money. One potential option with utilizing the funds will be to use them towards some school construction projects in the future. The board had four options in front of them. They could’ve not transferred the funds; they could’ve transferred $150,000, 175,000, or $200,000. After some discussion, the board voted unanimously on the fourth option to transfer $200,000 from the Early Childhood Education Fund to the General Fund. It will now need approval from the Commissioner of the MDE before the funds can be transferred.

Olson talked more about the timeline of being approved for the transfer by the MDE. “We will submit an application for approval within the coming weeks before our audit is finalized,” said Olson. “Once we do that, I have no idea how long it will take for the MDE to get back to us. I would anticipate though that it would be very timely.”

The second item was to review and approve a potential finance option for the Crookston School District Track & Field Football project. The estimated cost for the project as of now is $3.8 million. There were three finance options for the project that Olson showed the board.

The first option was a 10-year bonding plan, the second was an 11-year plan, and the third was a 12-year plan. The 12-year plan would have higher interest rates but would impact the taxpayers less from year to year. The 10-year plan would have a higher impact on the taxpayers year to year with lower interest rates, and the 11-year plan would fall right in between the other two options.

The board couldn’t reach a decision and tabled the matter until their official board meeting on Monday, October 25. This allows the school board members to learn more about each option and the specifics on how it will impact the taxpayers.

Olson talked about what will take place that night and says the school board will need to decide if they want to move forward with a referendum. “At the next meeting, the first question the school board will be asked is if they want to move forward with a referendum,” said Olson. “If they want to move forward with a referendum, the next question becomes when? And after that, the next question will be what finance option they want. We’ve discussed all these different pieces and now will pull them all together and bring them to the community and say this is what we’re going for, and this is what the finance options will look like. This way, we’re fully transparent on the process.”

That board meeting on October 25 will begin at 5:00 p.m., and the public is welcomed to attend.