The Mabel-Canton School Board discussed and made revisions to the 2013-2014 district budget during its meeting on Tuesday, March 18.

Business manager Todd Lechtenberg gave the board his monthly update on the district finances and asked the board for approval of a revised 2013-2014 budget, which comes with a planned general fund deficit spending of $180,419.

Lechtenburg said the district is looking at a $163,876 decrease in revenue from where they started the current year's budget. The two main areas of the projected decrease in revenue is coming from HVED (Hiawatha Valley Education District) special education funds ($88,740) and compensatory revenue for free and reduced lunches ($43,468). Other areas of projected decreased revenue include out of state tuition ($10,344), federal special education ($5,071), interest earnings ($3,192) and reduced local revenue ($13,061).

At the same time, expenditures from the current year so far have only gone up by $9,934 from the initially approved budget of $3,038,655.

"When you're looking at the $3 million expense and to be only (about) $10,000 off right now - I mean, that is amazing what the staff is doing right now," Lechtenburg said. He added most of the over $9,000 shortfall comes from teacher retirement accounts and public employee retirement accounts which increased their percentages.

"We are very lucky to have Todd on board - it's a 24/7 job and he has really embraced it...that's partially why your (the district's) budget is looking better and better all the time is because of the hours and efforts that he's putting in," said District Superintendent Jennifer Backer.

Lechtenburg continued to ask for a revised budget with a planned deficit spending of the $180,419.

"It was (the deficit) at $300,000 (earlier in the year), we're getting it back down to $180,000 - we've got plans in the works to get it closer to zero by getting all-day, every-day kindergarten funding..." he added.

Looking forward to the 2014-2015 budget, Lechtenburg said they are looking forward to continue offering all-day, every-day kindergarten - but are still projecting an enrollment decline of about nine students. "

We will not be bringing a budget with a deficit of $180,000 (for next year) - I promise you it will be a lot less than that...and our goal is to get this back positive and get this growing," Lechtenburg said.

"We made a commitment to this staff and to all of you in this community that our numbers will look better and better all the time," Backer added. "We continue to ask for your trust in that...just know that we are going to do everything we can and we are going to own this budget."

Backer also told the board members to expect cuts, freezes and increases in fees to come before them later this spring which will allow the district to recover from the current shortfall. She also asked the board to be aware that the process of "cleaning up" the shortfall will take between one to three years.

The board approved the revised 2013-2014 budget unanimously without discussion.

Other business

The board also voted unanimously to accept the resignations of teachers Linda Turner and Sue Roppe. Turner's resignation comes after 43 years of service to the district. "We would like to thank them for their years of service," said board president Mary Kuhn.