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District eyes levy hike, plus more School Board briefs

District business manager Jackie Paradis presented the Truth-in-Taxation hearing for the 2017 levy and the 2016-2017 budget Monday night. Paradis reported a total levy increase of 23.35 percent or nearly $2.03 million. The increase, Paradis said, is primarily due to additional debt service funds for the referendum voters approved in April, and the bonds subsequently sold in August.

She reported the general fund went up about 7 percent.

"Most of the general fund increase was in long-term facilities maintenance aid, which is the new authority from the Legislature to help upkeep our buildings. That took its scheduled increase for the year," Paradis said.

Legislative formula changes affected increases in other areas including the community service fund, she said, specifically early childhood education. The Legislature and governor's administration establish the overall tax policies for the state and are the sole authority to create levy options for school districts.

"They set the parameters of what we can levy as a school district," said Paradis. "We can only decrease the levy from the parameters of the Department of Education and the Legislature give us. The local School Board cannot increase on their own without an election."

The board will consider approval of the final 2016 levy at the Dec. 19 regular meeting.

Financial audit is 'best'

Steve Salveson of Smith, Schafer, and Associates presented the district's financial audit for fiscal year 2016. The annual audit includes the financial statements of the governmental activities, the business-type activities, each major fund and the aggregate remaining fund information of the district.

"We found no compliance exceptions, no significant deficiencies and no material weaknesses. That's the best you can get," Salveson said.

The audit showed general fund expenditures exceeded revenues by $79,037 in fiscal year 2016, which was $157,592 better than the budgeted reduction of $236,629.

Personnel moves made

Hires: Robin Pagel, counselor for Twin Bluff Middle School and Red Wing High School, effective Dec. 5, (new position). Resignation: Tamara Hills, Kids Junction at Sunnyside Elementary School, effective Nov. 18; Elizabeth (Lisa) Dankers, secretary for Community Education & Recreation, effective Dec. 9.

In other news...

• The school district solicited bids for asbestos abatement at Twin Bluff Middle School. Some work will be conducted over the Christmas break, with work continuing over spring break and the summer. The board unanimously accepted the lump sum base bid of $132,800 from Ecco Midwest to complete the work.

• Beth Borgen and Joe Jezierski concluded a three-part review of the World's Best Workforce Report. In accordance with state statutes, the district must publish and submit a summary of the report to the Commissioner of Education. The board approved the report by a vote of 7-0.

• A May school trip for approximately 200 Burnside fourth-graders to Eagle Bluff in Lanesboro, Minn., was approved.

Meeting watch

The Monday Dec. 5 meeting lasted approximately one hour and 45 minutes. All Board members were present. The next meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 12, at Red Wing High School media center. This is a special School Board meeting to approve construction bids.

— compiled by Samantha Bengs, staff writer