Debut meeting was an avalanche of accounting terms, dollars, cents, and grim financial forecasts for new student representatives Logan Petznick, Grace Peterson–but they endured

The newest “members” of the Pelican Rapids School Board were initiated to their posts with a deluge of numbers, dollars, cents, revenues and expenses. 

The newest “members” of the Pelican Rapids school board are high school representatives Logan Petznick and Grace Peterson, pictured here at their first meeting. They are listening to accountant Brian Stavenger, of the Eide Bailey firm, deliver the annual Pelican school audit report. Under the student school board member program, the youth are there to offer input and bring a student perspective to local school board meetings–though they cannot vote. The program is also a scholarship opportunity.

Serving their first session at the board room table were high school students Logan Petznick and Grace Peterson.  The two are non-voting members of the school board under a program aimed at engaging young people, as well as seeking input from the student body. 

Crunching the numbers was Brian Stavenger, who deliverered the annual audit report Dec. 17.  Stavenger is with the school’s accounting firm Eide Bailey. 

Though they didn’t show it, the student representatives were likely overwhelmed by big, ten-digit numbers–all with dollar signs in front.  

Some of those big numbers weren’t so good, either. 

Auditor Stavenger explained in his report that the school spent $10,998,839.00 in the fiscal year ending June 30 2018–which was about $899,230 over budget projections. Deficit spending could reduce school reserve funds to a half million dollars by the end of fiscal year 2019. 

Student reps Petznick and Peterson, total rookies in the complex science of public school finance, listened intently. Not bad, for a couple kids.  Accountants generally drive  grown-ups to dozing, delirium or drinking–depending on the real-world impact of the numbers, the dollars and the cents.  

 The students didn’t offer any input at their inaugural meeting, but they will be encouraged to weigh in on other topics in the future–as they become more acclimated. 

It wasn’t all numbers in the thousands and millions for Petznick and Peterson, at their first Pelican board meeting.  

They also learned about the generosity of the greater Pelican area community, with more than $4,000 in donations to various school programs–including the SADD Chapter (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and the new electronic soccer scoreboard.

They learned about the work of school nurse Cherie Lynnes, who treats and screens and administers flu shots to hundreds of Pelican students each year. 

They also learned that the school may return to a five-day week.  For these high school students, all they’ve really known is a four-day school week.

All in all, it was a full night for new student representatives Petznick and Peterson.  

“I’d like to thank the student representatives,” said Superintendent Randi Anderson, “…This is another step in the path of becoming the leaders that I know your are.” 

By the end of this school year, they may have gained enough knowledge to help reverse deficit spending, find new revenue sources, improve academic performance and increase enrollment. 

They may not be able to make school policy by voting–but they could make a difference.