Board opts for $300 board-approved levy
By Jennifer Kotila
The Dassel-Cokato School District will not ask voters to approve a levy this fall, but will instead opt to pass a $300 board-approved levy.
After a brief discussion at its meeting June 26 regarding the district’s options for a funding levy, the board concluded it would be in the district’s best interest to approve a levy according to what the state now allows for districts such as DC.
The state legislature passed a new formula for operating levies this year that automatically gives the district location operating revenue of $424 per pupil, equalized at 48 percent, according to Ehlers, the district’s financial advisors.
That means local taxpayers would be paying 52 percent, and aid from the state would cover the remaining 48 percent.
The new legislation also allows the school board to approve an additional levy of $300 per pupil for up to five years, equalized at 68 percent, without asking voters to approve it, according to Ehlers.
School Board Member Irene Bender noted it takes a lot of time and resources to run a levy election, something which the district is short of at this time.
Noting the district only asked voters for what was needed during the failed levy-attempt in the fall of 2013, she added the board should approve the $300 levy for the full five years.
School Board Member Richard Tormanen agreed, noting that by approving the $300, it takes away the risk and anticipation of not having enough revenue for the district.
“We are a conservative board that makes good decisions,” Tormanen said. “I don’t see that changing because of this levy.”
“We are only proposing what the law allows, which is not much different than what we were going to ask for,” said School Board Chair Kevin Bjork, agreeing with Tormanen.
A resolution is expected to come before the board for adoption at its Thursday, July 24 meeting to approve a 5-year $300 per pupil levy for the district.
This will bring the district’s total levying power to $724 per student. However, the district anticipates under-levying each year, and only burdening the taxpayers with as much money as is needed to keep the district running similarly to today.
It was noted that this option would be the best for taxpayers, allowing the district to recapture more revenue from state taxes to benefit the local school district.
It was also noted that the district has been involved with Schools for Equity in Education for a number of years, and the recent legislation allowing the district to levy money this way was due to the organization’s efforts.
Filing dates set for DC School Board candidates
The Dassel-Cokato School Board adopted a resolution at its meeting June 26 scheduling the window of time open to file affidavits for candidacy for school board members.
Filing for candidacy will be open from Tuesday, July 29 through Tuesday, Aug. 12 at 5 p.m.
Three school board seats are up for election in 2014, including School Board Chair Kevin Bjork, and school board members Richard Tormanen and Rebecca Clemen.
Tormanen has decided not to seek re-election; Clemen and Bjork have not yet decided if they will seek re-election.
The filing fee for candidacy is $2, and those who wish to run must be an eligible voter, 21 years of age or older, and a resident of the school district.
The term of office for elected school board members is four years.
2014-15 budget adoption
Business Manager Tina Palmer informed the board that not much had changed since the 2014-15 district budget was presented to the board at its June 9 meeting, and the board approved the budget.
Odds and ends
In other business, the board:
• heard from School Board Member Tracy McConkey, speaking on behalf of the Clark family, who expressed their appreciation of the district’s support and understanding during their son, Gregory’s, illness.
Gregory missed seven weeks of school this spring because of the illness; fearful he would not pass fourth grade, Gregory was assured by Powers that he would be able to move on to fifth grade with his peers.
• approved bringing back 10-punch passes for admission to DC athletic events, which will sell for $30 a-piece.
• approved the teacher evaluation and peer review process.
• heard a presentation from District Transportation Director Nicole Carlen regarding a new model for transporting early childhood special education students.
The district has currently been using vans to transport the students, but will begin using small busses.
• approved Brian Franklin as the district’s LEA representative for Title grants.
• approved the 2014-15 health and safety budget.
• approved the district’s health and safety plan.
• approved continuing contracts for middle school speech instructor Angela Lauderbaugh, high school special education instructor Carol Impola, Dassel Elementary instructor Nancy Madsen, and Cokato Elementary instructor Beth Gerholz.
• approved the FFA trip to the national convention Oct. 28-Nov. 2.
• approved continuing a one-year contract for health and safety consulting services at a cost of $7,404 with the Institute for Environmental Assessment.
• approved the adult basic education contract with Glacial Lakes Consortium.
• approved a childcare leave request for Kelly Klima.
• accepted the donation of $1,350 from the DC FFA Alumni Association for FFA state competitor fees; $1,000 in memory of Ralph Holt from Holt Motors for the scholarship fund; $150 from Cokato-Dassel Rotary Club for the summer work program for area learning center and FOCUS students; $100 from Joelle Woetzel for Dassel Elementary; $500 from American Time and Signal for the scholarship fund; $389 each to Cokato and Dassel elementary schools from the Cokato Dairy Queen; $80 from the Minnesota Historical Society for a high school field trip; $2,000 from Mary Ann Ryan for high school choir robes.
• accepted a $2,950 grant from AgStar Financial Services for the small gas engines class at the high school, applied for by high school agriculture instructor Eric Sawatzke.