May 14, 2007

Talks begin for possible fall levy

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

The Dassel-Cokato School Board and administration discussed general areas of need regarding next year’s budget and a possible fall levy referendum.

Each principal addressed the board with their concerns and future needs. Many of the concerns were similar in nature including technological advancements, increase supply budget, and additional books for the school’s media centers, especially in the two elementary schools.

Books were a topic that was brought up with the elementary student report given at the start of the meeting.

The students expressed a need for a larger collection of books, especially fiction and science fiction.

Cokato Elementary Principal Lorene Force commented also on the condition of the books being “mature.”

Dassel Elementary Principal Karen Coblentz expressed that the money spent toward hardcover books doesn’t go far when costs can be $20 to $30 per book.

Other concerns were general updating and maintenance of facilities, including Dassel Elementary restrooms, which was also mentioned in the fourth grade elementary student report.

Since the needs from last year’s levy have not disappeared, Superintendent Jeff Powers wants to move forward with more flexibility where currently there is none, he said.

Even with possible legislation geared toward school funding, the need for a levy won’t disappear, Powers said.

The board discussed creating a formula of sorts that would describe what a DC grad should look like and go backwards from there. The board would then decide what it would take to get the students there.

Activities Director Perry Thinesen shared his thoughts with the board regarding an upcoming levy and needs to be met. Thinesen suggested $20,000 to $25,000 be added to a levy to pay for needed supplies, fees for officials and to replace coaches cut in past budget reductions. Thinesen also included the cost of transportation and increased participation affecting the activities budget.

No action was taken Monday night. More details regarding the purpose of a levy and a particular dollar amount will be shared at the Monday, June 11 meeting.

In other business

The board discussed the district’s goals for the 2007-08 school year regarding the budget, communication, and student achievement.

The district’s goal for the budget is, to review and analyze expenses and revenues for the 2007-08 school year and take action, as necessary, to meet student needs and maintain financial stability.

The district’s goal for communication is, to improve communication with all district stakeholders. One way to do this is by using an online elementary grading system for Parent Portal, and communicating the district’s financial matters; both its needs and accomplishments.

The district’s goal regarding student achievement is to increase those areas measured by the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA-II) levels of proficiency by 5 percent from the 2006-07 results. Curricular areas not measured by the MCA-II’s will establish SMART goals that will demonstrate increased proficiency. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

The board approved the final revisions to the facilities and equipment policy, with changes in two areas.

The first change will affect groups like boosters or PTA in that they don’t have to pay an additional multi-user fee which would be $15 more than the current $10 rate.

The idea was suggested that groups who are most likely meeting in regards to fundraising shouldn’t be charged $25 to meet on behalf of the school district, according to Thinesen.

The other change is in regards to the class three rates. These rates were based on daily rates, now, there will be hourly rates, as well.

These changes are now in effect.

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