Audit shows slight increase in enrollment in 2022

By Chad Koenen


The Henning School District received nearly 15 percent more revenue than its final budget, while also under spending its budget by nearly 5 percent. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop the school district from spending $547,038 more than it received in revenue last year. 

During its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday night, the Henning School Board received its annual 2022 audit report which showed the school district spent more than it received last year. While the district still maintains a healthy unassigned fund balance, the district dipped below its own policy of maintaining a 25 percent unassigned fund balance for the first time in at least 10 years. It is also just below the state recommendation that states a school district should have two months of expenses in its unrestricted fund balance, which is also at its lowest level in 10 years. 

Some of the decrease in revenue was blamed on no longer receiving ESSERS money, which was associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a decrease in enrollment from years past and increase in PSEO students.

With an enrollment that has stabilized but is lower by about 50 students from just a few years ago, several school board members said it will need to take a hard look at expenses and look for ways to increase revenue/students in the school district in the near future to avoid continuing to dip into its reserve fund to pay bills. The school district’s 2022-23 budget also reportedly shows a shortfall of revenue when compared to expenses. 

While the unrestricted and unassigned funds took a hit last year, the food service fund dramatically increased last year thanks to additional funding the school district received as part of the free breakfast and lunch program. That program has since ended, but auditors from Eide Bailly said many school districts across the state saw a dramatic increase in their food service fund over the past three years. 

The average daily enrollment increased slightly in 2022 to 360 students. In 2021 Henning’s average daily enrollment was 349 students, while it was 378 students in 2019. The highest average daily enrollment as 392 students in 2016. 

In addition to the audit, the school board authorized the district administration to work with consultants to complete and submit the required information tot he Commissioner of Education for a review and comment for the upcoming school building referendum. The referendum will feature two questions, which includes a $23 million construction project for question one and a $4.4 million project for question two. 

The second question will be contingent on the first one passing voters. 

As part of the first question, the district will be constructing and updating the cafeteria, commons, administration office, classroom addition, a new CTE addition, renovating existing classrooms, indoor air quality improvements, interior and exterior deferred maintenance improvements and a new parking lot with a parent drop off loop.

The second question will construct a new gym.

In other news

• Accepted the following donations: First National Bank, Citizen’s Advocate, Ottertail Lions Club and TNT Repair for summer rec/swimming lessons and t-shirts, as well as an anonymous donation to Andria Weller’s preschool room.

• Accepted the resignation of Jason Speer as junior varsity golf coach.

• Discussed the substitute teacher daily pay rate. Henning recently increased the pay of substitute teachers to $120 per day, which was comparable to other school districts in the area. However, a concern was reportedly raised by some substitutes about being assigned an additional class to teach that resulted in just one prep period instead of two. The extra assignment was done if there was a shortage of teachers available during the day. Several school board members said Henning is unique in that teachers have two prep periods as part of an eight hour day, as opposed to the more conventional one prep period as part of a seven period day. The school board said it will take the concern under advisement and discuss it at more length at a later date. 

  • Heard from Henning Principal Thomas Williams who is exploring potential ideas to address unexcused attendance issues. The goal would be to go away from detention, in school suspension and Saturday detention for alternative consequences for students. The issue of unexcused absences continues to be an issue at both Henning School and a number of school districts across the state. 

• Heard the monthly enrollment report that shows K-12 enrollment remained at 351 students.