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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Ely Public School finances back in the black

Catie Clark
Posted 2/21/24

ELY- The Ely School Board heard a report by Devin Ceglar of the accounting firm of Walker, Giroux and Hahne on the audit of the district’s 2022-23 finances, receiving the welcome news at its …

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Ely Public School finances back in the black


ELY- The Ely School Board heard a report by Devin Ceglar of the accounting firm of Walker, Giroux and Hahne on the audit of the district’s 2022-23 finances, receiving the welcome news at its Feb. 11 meeting that the district’s net position increased by approximately $7.6 million.
ISD 696 ended the 2021-22 school year with a negative net of $1.1 million but ended the 2022-23 school year with a positive balance of $6.5 million, according to the net position balance sheet the auditing firm presenting in its 94-page report.
Ceglar reported that most of the change in the district’s finances was due to the construction and completion of the new addition, which added $4.3 million to the district’s assets according to the audit report. Other than construction, the year-over-year changes in other fund balances “were not significant.”
Ceglar’s report noted that the district received just $943,000 more in revenue than it anticipated, but spent $1.4 million more than it had budgeted. The largest overruns, at approximately a half million apiece, were in the “regular instruction” and “site, buildings, and equipment” budget lines. Ceglar noted the unanticipated replacement of the gym floor accounted for much of the site cost overrun, though that was defrayed by $395,099 in “insurance recovery.”

New windows
Approved a bid of $1,684,000 from Lenci Enterprises for window replacement. This work is part of the Phase II completion project managed for the district by general contractor Widseth, Smith, Nolting and Associates out of Hibbing. An “add alternate” bid for $200,000 was dropped from the agenda, which was for the windows on the south side of the high school building, for the gym and where the pool was once located.
“We decided to do an add alternate bid in case the bids came in higher so we would have some flexibility if the base bid came in higher than what we originally projected,” said Superintendent Anne Oelke. “We’re approving the base bid, because we want to get moving on the finalizing the dimensions on the windows and things like that to get ordered as fast as we can.”
Oelke added that the rest of the bids for the Phase II project will be going out on Feb. 29 for approval at the March 11 school board meeting. The add alternate bid, which is good for 30 days, will be paused for now until the rest of the bids for the project are in.
In other business, the school board:
• Approved the January fiscal report, the January receipts in the amount of $851,273 and the January disbursements in the amount of $493,574.
• Accepted the resignation of Eliza Vistica as head girls track coach effective immediately.
• Hired Jill Ellerbroek for the head girls track coach position as recommended by Jeff Carey, 6-12 Principal and Tom Coombe, Athletic Director.
• Approved a motion for Superintendent Oelke to continue discussions on the Northland Learning Center building project.
• Authorized and directed Superintendent Oelke to initiate discussions with the Lake Superior School District regarding school district boundaries and possible future adjustments to district boundaries. School board chair Ray Marsnik noted, “The people of Fall Lake (in Lake County) initiated this.” Fall Lake residents are within the Lake Superior School District but most open enroll their children in the Ely School District because of the distance issues. The Lake Superior schools are all an hour or more away while Ely is next door.
• Approved a resolution authorizing the district to apply for and accept revenue bond grant funds from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.
• Approved the 2024-25 school year calendar.
• Accepted a donation of $1,500 from the Ely Educational Foundation to equip a special education sensory room, and $385 from the Kiwanis Club for the National Honor Society.
• Approved the services of Althing District AIRs, which provides mental health assessment, intervention, and referral services by medical professionals at no cost to the district. The service is funded through the Affordable Care Act. Before the firm starts the assessment process, parents and guardians of students are informed beforehand and can opt out of the service.
• Heard the report of Athletic Director Tom Coombe that the Boys Nordic Ski Team and two members of the Girls Nordic Ski Team were heading to the Minnesota Nordic Ski Tournament, noting that this is the 23rd year in a row that Ely has sent someone to compete at the state level. Coombe also reported that the ice hockey team had 14 wins this season, the most since 2001. The team heads to playoffs next week.
• Approved a motion to go into executive session to discuss “negotiation strategies” with the local teachers’ union for next year’s contracts.