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home : government : government October 20, 2014

6/27/2013 2:07:00 PM
State action allows increase in school funding

By Nora Bryson

"This is certainly good news for our District." Cannon Falls School Board Chairman Bob Brintnall stated empathically Monday night after Superintendent Beth Giese explained the Legislature's new funding formula that will bring in an additional $140,034 in FY 2014 and $444,031 in FY 2015. Much of that is due to getting a 1.2 student credit (as opposed to only 0.55) for initiating All Day Every Day Kindergarten.

Giese explained the new formula allows the district to levy $300 per student under the Operating Referendum Revenue (ORR) statute and another $424 per student under Location Equity Revenue (LER--for districts whose boundaries include land within the 7-county Metro area); all without needing voter approval. Cannon Falls fell 800 students short of the 2,000 necessary to receive an extra $212 per student in state funding. The previous formula had left the district 331st out of 339 schools in state funding.

Giese distributed a comparative tax impact chart. For example, a home with a Residential Market Value (RMV) of $175,000, would get to have their taxes reduced by $45 if voters chose to renew the district's current operating referendum of $500 per student (but it would also cost the district a minimum of $8,000 for ballots and all other expenses related to holding a referendum vote). If that same referendum failed, and funding was allowed to go to $0, the home owner could only expect to receive a $35 reduction. If the district merely adopted the new $300 per student ORR, the home owner would see a $119 reduction in RMV taxes. If the district adopts both the ORR and the LER, the home-owner's taxes will increase by $26.

Given these facts and figures, the Board unanimously (except for the absence of Board Member Pat Dougherty) adopted the Resolution for a Referendum Revenue Authorization later in the business section of the meeting.

Booster Club compliance with Minnesota State High School regulations took up a majority of the meeting. Board members Curt Beissel and Jerry Reinardy again reviewed the MSHSL's Title 9 compliance requirements for Booster Clubs. Not only is the school district "liable" for how the money is used, but, depending on how the clubs are structured and function, they could be liable for any accidents as well.

Reinardy asked board members to consider what, if anything, should be oversight requirements. His list of suggestions included: mission statement, by-laws, liability insurance (at what level?), a profit/loss statement, a list of fundraisers, and an annual review of the group's books. Beissel reminded the board that some of the boosters were registered 501 C 3s and could do whatever fundraisers they chose. He questioned how to bring them under the district's coordinating umbrella.

"I don't want to up-set something that's working so well and funding a lot of things we can't do," Giese cautioned. "I can't afford helmets...I don't want to disrupt a cart that's already going in the right direction."

Reinardy suggested the board just "request" (rather than "require") a minimum of mission statement, by-laws and examine the need for liability insurance. Beissel suggested the school establish guidelines for how the money is spent and have a "review and sign-off" system that runs through the Athletic Director.

Board member Brenda Owens asked that Giese find out what other districts are doing to address this issue before proceeding.

The state recommends having only one booster club so all funds must come into the school and then be re-distributed accordingly.

Riverport Insurance Company with agent Ron Freeberg was granted the Distsrict's property and Worker's Comp business for 2013-16 with a total quote of $130,064, approximately $8,000 more than last year. The only other quote, from EMC Insurance Company (Mark Kremers, agent), came in close at $133,935.

Brintnall said he had been contacted by Kremers and told that EMC's quote "could do better," but Reinardy pointed out that no addendums were added to EMC's quote to indicate that was true. Both Owens and Beissel stated they felt the board "needed to stick with what we been given."

Giese interjected her support for Riverport, stating, "there wasn't a week, it seems, that went by that I didn't need to call Geri or Ron...they were always very responsive and very good at getting back to me." She recalled that the District has had its insurance with Freeberg for the past 25 years. Brintnall reminded the board that they were not "required" to take the lowest quote and that, indeed, this was only a "quote" and not a "bid." Beissel ended the discussion, "sounds like things are going smoothly staying where we're at."

The board approved the Finance Report showing the district is about $2 million ahead of last year and the Preliminary 2013-14 Budget which incorporates the extra $140,034 from the new funding formula and projects Total Expenditures of $13,718,064.45 and Total Revenues of $13,596,077.96. Giese explained that $80,000 of the $212,986.49 in red ink was due to the two bus leases and one van purchase approved earlier that night.

The Board unanimously approved a resolution discontinuing all regular and special bus route drivers' positions. The District will utilize Andy Sandstrom's SafeLink driver, routing, and dispatching service. The 14 drivers impacted by the decision will be offered positions through SafeLink; although they are eligible for Unemployment Compensation.

Having SafeLink employ the bus drivers was the best transportation alternative. It allowed the District to maintain its assets (the buses, the land, and the garage) while saving huge amounts in worker's comp and health insurance (SafeLink would be below the 50-employee ObamaCare threshold). According to the district's lawyers, there is no need to go out for bids because it would be considered a "continuing contract" with Sandstrom. Some details (like who carries the passenger insurance) are still being worked out, but the intention is to sign a two-year, trial contract.

The Board approved the five-year lease of two new, Thomas brand buses (one 83-passenger "flat-nose," and one 81-passenger regular fronted) financed at 2.8% and costing the District approximately $37,700 per year. The District will save $8,000 plus reduced maintenance by going with the 2-fewer passenger, regular bus. The two oldest (2009) buses in the fleet will be sold.

The Board reluctantly approved the purchase of a new van for the Goodhue County Education District. Giese explained that the members take turns providing a van and it is now Cannon Falls' rotation. The cost, make, model, etc. was undisclosed.

The Board approved the one-year Athletic Trainer Services Agreement with Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center for an annual fee of $10,270 (football, baseball/softball, and wrestling) plus the promise to post "signs/banners and any website banners created by Mayo at events in areas designated." Additional events will be charged at the fee of $28.50 per hour.

The Board approved resignations of: 5th grade teacher Kirk Affeldt, Special Education teacher Kathy Sessions, and Sharon Noble (who is actually just moving to the Goodhue County Ed. District at Giese's behest). The Board approved the hire of 3rd grade teacher Melissa Kappes for $42,933 for 2013-14.

In other business, the board approved 1) membership to Schools for Equity in Education for the annual fee of $2,166; 2) the school's Health and Safety Policy 807 and its Attachment 10 Budget calling for $67,010 to be spent in 2013, $100,300 in 2014, and $120,450 in 2015; 3) adjusting the 2012-13 student-days calendar from 174 to 170 to reflect snow days; 4) the Middle/High School Student Handbook with changes in the Weapons Policy and Cashier Office Hours; and 5) the list of 15 Fall Assistant Coaches for Football, four for Volleyball, two for Tennis, and Soccer's TBA.

Written reports were submitted by Elementary Principal Derek Bell, High School Principal Tim Hodges, Community Education and Athletic Director Jake Winchell, and Head of Operations and Maintenance Dave Davisson without comment. Cannon Equipment was thanked for donating the four bike racks-two will be placed at the Elementary and two at the Fieldhouse entryway.

The board's remaining Summer meeting dates are: July 22, August 26, and September 23. The board only meets once a month during the Summer.

The next meeting will be Monday, July 22 at 6 p.m. Agenda items include: bread and milk bids, paper, Referendum discussion, and CTS Energy Savings Presentation. Brintnall reminded the gallery that presenters and those wishing to speak longer than five minutes should contact the district office at least one week prior to the board meeting.



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