Board approves lower total tax levyMoney was on the agenda at Monday night’s meeting of the Cloquet School Board – both the public’s, and ideas on how to help students manage theirs as they head into adult life.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
Money was on the agenda at Monday night’s meeting of the Cloquet School Board – both the public’s, and ideas on how to help students manage theirs as they head into adult life.
Business Manager Kim Josephson gave the district’s “Truth in Taxation” presentation for property taxes payable in 2013 for use during the 2013-14 school year.
The district’s total levy will drop by 3.62 percent this year, to a total of $3,720,228. That drop may help provide mild property tax relief for some Cloquet School District residents during the coming year.
Josephson presented a tax statement for a home valued at $204,500 in 2012. That property’s market value dropped to $197,100 for the coming year, leading to a net annual decrease in property taxes of $50 for the year. Carlton County’s levy will increase slightly for that property in 2013, while the share of the Cloquet School District and special taxing districts declined. The city of Cloquet plans a flat levy for 2013, which for this property resulted in a drop in tax due to decreased property value.
The property value in Josephson’s example is greater than the average property value in the Cloquet School District, which Carlton County Auditor Paul Gassert estimated at approximately $140,000. Residents who have made improvements to their property or who have seen an increase in their property’s assessed values may not see as much, or any, property tax relief, and commercial properties will see an increase in general.
The levy amounted to about 13 percent of the district’s total expenditures of $30,267,030 in 2012. Of that expenditure figure, 69 percent went to salaries and benefits for employees.
The board also heard a presentation from business teachers Kathy Abrahamson and Ashley Towner and counselor Shannon Sams urging the board to make the “Careers and Money Matters” course a requirement for graduation.
“There are no state standards in business education,” Towner said. “It’s quite shocking and a little bit terrifying to see that some kids are trying to manage finances while still in high school. This is our chance to give our students instruction in financial success.”
“It’s a life skill our children need,” Abrahamson added. “We have four sections of Personal Finance students at the high school. The kids are wanting to know and are eager to know how to be financially successful.”
“We have kids who don’t want to apply for college because they don’t want the debt from student loans,” Sams said. “They’re scared. We want to help out kids get a career path and plan ahead. All those life things are important.”
Superintendent Ken Scarbrough asked where the process of adding electives and requirements would end.
“It’s a great thing for kids to learn and no one can argue that,” he said, “but my concern … is, ‘Where do you stop?’”
Cloquet Middle School Principal Tom Brenner, speaking as a parent, expressed reservations about adding a requirement.
“There are some kids who do sit down at home and do bills with their parents,” he said. “Some parents do teach it to their kids so some may not need a requirement. Then you are taking away something in school they might want to do [as an elective]. If you have obesity issues, for example, that might be a reason for another required class too.”
The board asked administration to prepare a proposal they could consider before the end of the month.
In other actions, the board:
+ Voted 4-1, with Duane Buytaert voting nay and board chair Gary Huard absent, to proceed with a partial implementation of the district’s wireless local area network plan through Works Computing Inc. and its partner Brocade for $95,902.07. The district reissued its Request for Proposals on this project two weeks ago due to discrepancies in bidding that led to inaccurate comparisons of the companies in competition.
Under the plan adopted, Washington and Churchill schools will wait until just before the start of fall classes in 2013 before being connected to the system, adding an additional $23,636 to the project cost out of the 2013 budget.
“Hopefully the taxpayers will appreciate the effort Kim (Josephson) put into this (bidding process),” board member Jim Crowley said, “but we need the technology for the kids.”
+ Asked administration to allow it to interview potential consultant vendors for a long-range facility study. Eventually, the study could include recommendations for new facilities, renovating others or some combination of those options.
“The thing is what you’re going to do with that 50-year old middle school going forward,” Scarbrough said.
The board is expected to interview candidates at its Jan. 14 working session.