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Dassel-Cokato School Board struggles with ways to increase revenue, save funds
May 29, 2017

Staff Writer

DASSEL, COKATO, MN – The Dassel-Cokato School Board grappled with activity fees at its meeting last Monday.

The proposal in front of the board raised student activity fees $20 per activity for grades 7-12. (This would increase the fee for 7-8 graders to $80 per activity; and to $100 per activity for 9 -12 graders; with an individual cap of $200 for all grades.)

“I struggle with this a bit,” board member Chuck Nelson said. “Our fees are at the low end in the conference, and Dassel-Cokato does everything to promote athletics and activities.”

Nelson wasn’t sure the approximate $28,000 in additional revenue from increased activity fees would be worth the impact it could have on students.

Board members discussed the possibility of softening the financial blow of increased activity fees by offering free or reduced admission costs for events.

District Business Manager Tina Palmer confirmed revenue from district activities is projected at $100,300 for the year, while activity expenses are budgeted at $985,253 for the year. The disparity between activities revenue and expenses is typical in the DC budget.

Superintendent Jeff Powers pointed out reducing or eliminating fees for admission to district activities, and not increasing activity fees directly, worked against board goals of saving money and increasing revenue.

“If we take away revenue,” Board Chair Rebecca Clemen added, “we take away educational opportunities for our kids. We need to make sure we are operating for educational purposes.”

After further discussion, Clemen requested a roll call vote regarding the increase in activity fees.

Clemen and Shane Colberg voted in favor of increasing the activity fees; Dave Sangren, Irene Bender, Bill Aho, and Nelson voted against raising the fees.

How about hockey?

Clemen reported that a meeting held with the Dassel Cokato Regional Ice and Sports Center board resulted in a “stalemate.”

She said the DCRISC board members appeared to be waiting to see what the school district was going to do regarding future funding before deciding what to do with the sports center.

Clemen said it appeared the DCRISC board wanted to keep its current funds to be used strictly for hockey-related expenses, while the school board envisioned using the facility for a variety of activities.

Clemen said she asked the DCRISC board for a definite plan for the future, and asked members to make a presentation at a June school board meeting.

Powers reminded the board that the DCRISC lease expires at the end of 2017, and the facility has already received two one-year lease extensions.

“If and when the center becomes property of the school district, then we can decide what kind of facility it’s going to be,” Clemen concluded.

Odds and ends

In other business, the board:

• was reminded by Clemen that each member was responsible for bringing in one nomination for the curriculum advisory board.

• listened to Bender indicate there were many needs throughout district buildings, and professionals who help districts prioritize such needs were quickly being booked for autumn.

• approved the 2017-2018 capital budget.

• approved a resolution for membership in the Minnesota State High School League for 2017-2018.

• heard about a recent first-grade bike rally from Dassel Elementary Principal Debbie Morris. She reported the rally promotes “health, safety, awareness and fun, and moves the classroom outside.”

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