By Deb Cox-Johnson
DASSEL, COKATO, MN The Dassel-Cokato School Board hosted a special meeting Nov. 15, with three main items on the agenda: canvass Nov. 6 election results, present the audit report, and discuss the election results.
Levy and bond voting results
The board passed a resolution to certify the results of the bond and levy ballot questions.
The levy issue was approved by voters, with 2,581 in favor and 2,300 against.
The bond issue was not approved, by a vote of 2,257 in favor and 2,538 against.
Superintendent Jeff Powers commented that the approval of the levy funds of approximately $1.5 million per year over 10 years is “fantastic” and will help the district accomplish a number of important objectives.
He also warned that the board should “tread carefully,” as it is “not as much as it sounds.” He pointed out that costs of employment contracts coming up for renewal over the next two years are currently unknown. There are other unknowns, as well.
The failure of the bond issue leaves the board with a number of important questions regarding possible future special elections. The timing for scheduling another special election varies, depending upon whether the board chooses to keep the same proposal, or to revise it.
Elected board members for 2019
Resolutions were passed to certify the election of Bill Aho, Chuck Nelson, and Katherine Grachow to four-year terms beginning in January. Andy Engh will serve a two-year term.
Priorities for the future
There was a lengthy discussion regarding other financial alternatives that may be available to accomplish some of the more pressing renovation needs, including enhanced security for the high school entrance, upgrading classrooms, and maintaining the parking lot.
Powers noted that the schools are “sound, but old.” He recommended forming a subcommittee to address maintenance issues.
Several members emphasized the importance of balancing facilities needs and simultaneously providing funding to measures that directly impact students’ learning experiences and ability to achieve. These factors include: keeping class sizes small, providing adequate social service support, and funding to fill “service gaps.”
Board Chair Rebecca Clemen stated that “we told people what we would use the [levy] money for, and that’s what we should do.”
Board Member Irene Bender indicated that she agreed with Clemen, but felt that “the community is also looking for us to do some of the improvements.”
Board Member Andy Engh indicated that he was “not in favor of using levy money to pay for capital leases,” which could be structured to accomplish larger renovation items.
Board Member Bill Aho noted that some of the most recent upgrades have been “noticed and appreciated,” and stressed that “we can’t neglect the facilities that we have.”
It was decided that Aho, Board Member Dave Sangren, Engh, and Powers would meet to review and discuss current maintenance issues. Clemen suggested that it would be important to include new board member, Katherine Grochow, in that process. Also, Powers will obtain current boiler prices.
Regarding a possible future bonding proposal and special election, Powers will send out the state deadline dates for filing and other requirements.
The auditor’s report was presented, reviewed, and approved by board members.
The board approved the audit report as presented.
December board meeting rescheduled
Clemen noted that the next board meeting date, based on the board meeting the fourth Monday of every month, would coincide with Christmas Eve this year. The board accepted and passed a motion to move the meeting to Monday, Dec. 17.