Friday, May 2, 2008

The Worner Report

The Pelican Rapids community is invited to attend a presentation on The Organizational Analysis Study done on the Pelican Rapids Schools by Roger Worner. The meeting will be held in the Fine Arts Auditorium on Monday, May 5th at 7:00. Roger will present his findings on the Pelican Rapids School District. Please make plans to attend.

Deborah Wanek, Superintendent
Pelican Rapids Public School
PO Box 642
310 South Broadway
Pelican Rapids, MN 56572
218-863-5910 Ext. 4001

Excerpt from The Worner Report:

The Project Consultants assessed that Pelican Rapids School District #548 is in dire straits and has limited alternatives available—without the support of its community patrons and parents—to preserve and protect the quality and comprehensiveness of its programs and services.

The leadership (School Board and Superintendent) of Pelican Rapids School District #548 has operated a conservative, prudent, fiscally-responsible educational enterprise for years. It has made available to its student clientel an array of programs and services which, at worst, are average or, at best, above average when compared to the average of all like-sized Minnesota school districts and the average of all State of Minnesota school districts. At the same time, the school district has expended considerably fewer dollars per student than found in the average of all like-sized Minnesota school districts or the average of all State of Minnesota school districts. Furthermore, taxpayers have been asked to contribute substantially fewer dollars for school property taxes than patrons in the average of all like-sized Minnesota school districts and the average of all State of Minnesota school districts. Indeed, Pelican Rapids School District #548 does not have in place either an operating levy referendum or a school bond referendum.

Pelican Rapids School District #548 would appear to have been functioning most satisfactorily—by any standards—until student enrollment began to decline because of, presumably, declining birth rates and, most assuredly, resident student out-migration to neighboring school districts through the Minnesota Open Enrollment Options’ Program. Even then, the school district managed to accumulate a sizable General Fund balance—representing 30.2% of the General Fund expenditure budget—through the conclusion of the 2006-07 organizational year. However, that General Fund balance will be significantly eroded by the conclusion of the 2007-08 organizational year, and were it not for a substantial General Fund budget reduction in 2007-08 for the 2008-09 organizational year, the school district’s fiscal reserves would reach a perilously low level. Without one or more significant budget reductions in the future, Pelican Rapids School District #548 could anticipate falling into Statutory Operating Debt by the conclusion of the 2009-10 organizational year.

The precipitating causes of Pelican Rapids School District #548’s future fiscal condition are (a) the decline in student enrollment, (b) erratic, unreliable, and insufficient funding support by the State of Minnesota, and (c) under-funding of the school district by resident taxpayers.

The only alternatives of merit available to the School Board and Superintendent of Pelican Rapids School District #548 are to seek and secure substantially increased funding support for the educational enterprise from the residents of the school district and, simultaneously, arrest and, hopefully, reverse the out-migration trends of resident students to neighboring school districts through the Minnesota Open Enrollment Options Program.

Recommendation 1
Create a Blue Ribbon Planning Task Force to study the contents of Pelican Rapids School District #548 Organizational Analysis Study and tender advisory recommendations to the School Board and Superintendent on subsequent courses of action to preserve and protect the school district.
Recommendation 2
Institute a substantive reduction in the organization’s General Fund budget (at least $500,000) for the 2008-09 organizational year.
Recommendation 3
Prepare for and conduct a significant operating levy referendum in November 2008.
Recommendation 4
Prepare for and conduct a future school bond referendum to construct a new Pelican Rapids Middle/High School on an educationally adequate site.
Recommendation 5
Commission a study process which will result in the selection, appraisal, and purchase of a site for the location of a new Pelican Rapids Middle/High School.
Recommendation 6
Engage the services of Springsted, Inc. to provide the organization with financial advice and counsel as the school district proceeds through a time period which is financially troubling.
Recommendation 7
Interview audit firms (including the school district’s current school auditors) for the 2008-09 organizational year and select that firm which can provide the school district’s leadership with the most qualified expertise during a time period when the organization is facing significant financial challenges.
Recommendation 8
Investigate the possibility of establishing a Joint Powers Agreement with the City of Pelican Rapids and other school district cities and townships to secure, among others, more broadly-based collaboration among the governmental entities and school district and funding for the school district’s/communities’ summer recreation programs.
Recommendation 9
Study the merits of consolidating—under one administrator—all Community Education Services to insure maximal oversight, accountability, funding, and cost/effectiveness.
Recommendation 10
Survey interest in the creation of a school district, fee-based, cost/effective, school-aged child care program which would be located at Viking Elementary School.
Recommendation 11
Commission a Task Force of realtors and developers to develop a plan or options for the sale, re-purposing, or disposal of a (future) vacated Pelican Rapids Junior/Senior High School.
Recommendation 12
Engage the services of an independent third party neutral to guide a broadly-based Task Force of community patrons, school district leadership, parents, and school district staff members in the development of an organizational Strategic Plan.
Recommendation 13
Develop a plan of action for enhancing school district communication, marketing, and public relations to strengthen parent and patron support in and affiliation with Pelican Rapids School District #548 and, further, halt and, as possible, reclaim resident students who may out-migrate or have out-migrated to other school districts through the Minnesota Open Enrollment Options Program.


Linnea Strand said...

I would encourage anyone with questions or concerns about what we are facing as a school district to attend the meeting on Monday, 4/5/08, at 7 p.m. in the Fine Arts Auditorium. Roger Worner will be discussing the Organizational Analysis Study that his company performed. I was asked to be part of the task force that is reviewing the study in detail and in just 3 meetings I feel more informed than I have ever been with regard to school finances, budget cuts, and the issues that WE are facing as a district. This is not an "us versus them" issue and while everyone has the right to their own opinion, please come to hear the facts of the situation before jumping to conclusions about decisions that are made and why they are made. It is my hope that the auditorium will be filled to capacity on Monday night because we need to solve the problems our schools are facing as a community, a well-informed community. This is your chance to help be a part of the solution--see you Monday night!

Anonymous said...

I would also like to encourage everyone to come to this meeting. The Roger Worner company really gives an unpartial report on what is happening with our school district. I think that everyone who comes to this meeting will leave with a greater understanding of what the school district (and this town) is facing. Please come and encourage everyone you know to come too.

Dena Johnson