District to reduce levy thanks to decreased asbestos, increased enrollmentSchool board members unanimously voted to approve preliminary tax levy certification at the recommendation of Superintendent Ken Scarbrough during the regular school board meeting Monday, Sept. 27.
By: Brittany Berrens, Pine Journal
School board members unanimously voted to approve preliminary tax levy certification at the recommendation of Superintendent Ken Scarbrough during the regular school board meeting Monday, Sept. 27.
The board levied the maximum amount possible for now because downward adjustments can be made to the levy between now and the final certification in December.
The levy is projected to go down by approximately $321,000 district wide, which turns out to be a nearly 8 percent reduction from the 2009-payable-in-2010 levy. That levy is at more than $4 million, while the 2010-payable-in 2011 levy
is maxed out at around $3.7
The decrease comes after a reduction from the general debt service of more than $270,000, because the district no longer needs to pay for asbestos removal costs since those improvements have already been completed.
Another minor reduction of around $50,000 in the levy is because of a slight increase in attendance numbers in recent years.
In other budget-related business, Scarbrough introduced a proposal to replace staff development budgeting with an instructional support budget. Laws requiring the district spend money each year for staff development have been suspended due to a weak economy, so Scarbrough said he wanted to better allocate funds in order to keep up improvement in the schools.
The new plan would focus more on curriculum development and staff training. It would mean the school principals would have to use more discretion when allowing staff to attend certain conferences and workshops. Scarbrough summed it up rather bluntly for the board.
“The state is in financial crisis. Business cannot proceed as usual. Things look the same and feel the same, but they’re not,” Scarbrough said.
Board members unanimously voted to allow Scarbrough and Business Manager Kim Josephson to move forward and make a more solidified budget for the new plan. Those numbers are to be presented at the next school board meeting.
“It needs to be a thorough thing. We need to have high expectations,” said board member Jim Crowley in reference to the new instructional support budget.
In other news, Cloquet High School Principal Warren Peterson told the school board that numbers in the College in the Schools program are on the rise.
Cloquet students took a total of 171 classes and earned a total of 563 credits from the University of Minnesota Duluth in the 2009-2010 school year. That is up from the 137 classes taken in the 2008-2009 school year.
What really adds up is the amount of savings to parents and students. More than $190,000 in savings was estimated for the last school year. That means high school students are taking advantage of the College in the Schools program by not having to take as many classes while attending post-secondary schools.
Numbers of students taking classes at Fond du Lac Community College and Lake Superior College were not yet available.
School board chairman Gary Huard was not present at Monday night’s meeting.