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Alexandria School Board approves 2022-23 preliminary budget

Enrollment is one of the most significant barriers in funding for the school district.

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ALEXANDRIA — At its Monday night meeting, the Alexandria School Board approved its annual preliminary budget.

Trevor Peterson, director of business services, presented a detailed executive summary of the preliminary budget and said there are still lots of moving parts. He also noted that it is based on the 2021-2022 final budget.

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Trevor Peterson

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the school district received COVID relief funding, which Peterson said he continues to monitor. Enrollment, which is a huge driver in the budget, is something else he said he will continue to track.

According to materials in the board packet, the district experienced a drop of 162 students during the 2020-21 school year because of the pandemic. The 2021-22 final enrollment for Alexandria Public Schools is projected to show an increase of 30 students. Peterson said there is a slight dip in enrollment projected for the 2022-23 school year.

Alexandria Public Schools preliminary budget by Celeste Edenloff on Scribd

“Enrollment is one of the most significant barriers in funding,” said Peterson.

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For the 2022-23 preliminary budget, the projected revenue for all funds — general, food service, community service, building construction, debt service, internal services, student activity and OPEB debt service — is projected to be $72.6 million. The final budget for 2021-22 was $81.9 million. The main change was in the building construction fund, which was at $11.1 million for 2021-22 and is at zero for 2022-23.

The projected expenditures for all funds — general, food service, community service, building construction, debt service, internal services, student activity and OPEB debt service — for 2022-23 is $79.3 million. The final budget for the 2021-22 expenditures was $77.98 million.

Superintendent Rick Sansted commended his staff, noting that the school district over the last several years tends to have conservative budget practices.

“I am very appreciative of our fiscal management,” he said.

Concerned parent

Laura Knudsen, a parent with an incoming ninth-grade student, who is also running for school board this fall, shared concerns about the play that has been chosen to be performed at the Alexandria Area High School.

The play is the teen version of “Chicago.” Knudsen said the premise of this production is based on adult themes, such as adultery and graphic murder. She said it is set in the 1920s in the seedy side of Chicago, where drinking and promiscuity were acts embraced by society's undesirables.

“Although licensing companies claim overtly sexual references and adult languages have been removed, there are plenty of references to adult behavior that do not belong on our high school stage,” Knudsen told the school board. “In a climate where parents are concerned about early sexualization of our children, and violence occurring in society, this production is a slap in the face to parents and our community.”

Knudsen shared lyrics from a song in the production where a woman explains why she murdered her husband that contains inappropriate content. She feels the play is not appropriate for the Alexandria School District.

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“We need this play replaced,” she said.

Sansted thanked Knudsen for sharing her concerns and said that the district is taking a look at it to see if it aligns with the school district’s values. He said he would get back to her about the decision.

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects lead and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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