Skip to main content

Audit: Facility projects, technology put Luverne School District over budget

Mavis Fodness

Luverne Public Schools spent almost $17 million in 2022, according to district auditors.
Justin McGraw with accountants Conway, Deuth and Schmiessing in Litchfield presented the information via zoom for fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, Thursday night at the school board’s first meeting of the new year.
Luverne schools spent $16.96 million dollars during the 2021-22 fiscal year, primarily due to the purchase of technology and the finishing of the middle-high building remodeling project.
During the 2021-22 fiscal year, Luverne received $16 million in revenue or just under $1 million less than the district spent.
“We knew we had to spend some money with the project,” said Superintendent Craig Oftedahl. “The board wanted to reinstate some of the things cut out of that project — to bring some of that back to what the board envisioned — we felt we shouldn’t short-spend.”
Money was spent in 2021 to replace boilers at the elementary school, regrade elementary playground equipment, continue terrazzo flooring in the new middle-high school commons and add a new server and teacher computers for the district.
“We used a lot of restricted funds that the state set aside for capital outlays and LTFM (long term facility maintenance),” said business manager Tyler Reisch. “Instead of taking it out of unassigned balance, we used restricted funds.”
The district has $3.2 million in its restricted fund and $7.6 million in unrestricted funds, according to the audit report.
Another year of deficit expenditures is expected for the 2022-23 school year, as the district finishes facility projects.
“We haven’t deficit-spent like this in a long time,” Oftedahl said. “We’re hoping after this year — the lines (of expenditures and revenues) — we’re hoping to see some mergence.”
The district anticipates receiving $15.4 million in revenues by June 30, 2023, but spending $16.5 million, primarily on upcoming parking lot repairs.
Overall, McGraw said the district’s financial statements “presented fairly,” the accountant’s highest rating.
He said like other school districts, the “lion’s share” of general fund expenditures is for salaries.
For the 2021-22 school year, Luverne spent $12.5 million on salaries, $2 million on purchased services, $1.4 million in supplies and materials, $592,000 in capital improvements and $293,000 on other purchases.
McGraw commended local personnel for bringing the food service fund out of a $17,841 deficit in 2021 to end at a positive $98,780 in 2022. Food service is also expected to continue a positive balance in 2023.
“By taking advantage of the National School Lunch Program in 2022, you really buoyed that fund balance,” he said. “That’s a good recovery.
“Now that you’re returning to paid lunches, you may not see large jumps (in the future) like that.”
The community service fund stayed within budget, spending $134,011 for the 2021-22 school year while the balance for the building construction project fell to $96,717. The construction budget is expected to be at zero by the end of this current fiscal year.