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School board sets tax levy

By Staff | Sep 16, 2012

The Blue Earth Area School Board set their property tax levy for 2013 at the maximum they will be allowed to have.

But, that exact number was not available at last Monday’s regular board meeting.

“The board has two choices,” school fiscal services coordinator Alan Wilhelmi says. “The board can set a target amount for the levy and make that number work, or you can certify whatever the maximum amount will be that the state will allow us to do.”

Most districts in the state, he added, simply say they are going to set the maximum they will be allowed not knowing the figure at this time.

Wilhelmi says the board needs to certify the preliminary amount in September, because he has to submit the number to the county auditor by Oct. 1. Even though the number is not known at this time.

Wilhelmi told the board that he had just received a preliminary 31-page budget/levy certification document from the state two days earlier.

“But, you only have to look at it for five seconds to see that it is not complete,” he says. “It is missing our general debt service figures.”

Without the numbers for debt service, the state report shows BEA’s maximum levy amount would be $1.2 million. That translates into a 26.93 percent decrease in the levy from this current year.

“Obviously we are not going to have a 27 percent decrease,” Wilhelmi says. “I think when we get the full budget numbers back we will be looking at a 3.71 percent increase in the tax levy.”

He bases that on the fact that the levy was $1.7 million last year, which included $556,000 in debt service.

“When we get the debt service added back in for this year, I think it will put us at 3.71 percent increase,” he says.

Wilhelmi says one of the things that could influence the final dollar amounts is the school’s enrollment numbers.

BEA’s overall enrollment is up dramatically this year, according to figures released at the Monday meeting.

Currently, overall enrollment is up from 1,217 last year to 1,248 as of last week.

And, BEA high school principal Rich Schneider says, it could go even higher.

“We have another couple of students who may still be enrolling this week,” he told the board. “I think there is a lot of interest in Blue Earth Area schools out there.”

The largest class is kindergarten, which is at 111 total, 23 of them in Winnebago.

Both first and second grades are at an even 100 each.

Seventh grade is at 104 while both the ninth and 12th grade class top the century mark with 102 each.

The two smallest classes are fourth grade at 84 and fifth grade with 85 students.

In other business at Monday night’s meeting, the board:

Heard a report from David Sparks concerning technology advancements and future needs at BEA.

Sparks says the computer labs were upgraded over the summer, four more Smart Boards were installed (bringing the total to 58) and 25 staff computers were updated.

With all the new technology, and the fact that students are allowed to use their own devices for learning, additional wireless access points will be necessary in the future, Sparks told the board.

Moved the meeting out to one of the new school buses to hear a report from transportation director Dan Brod.

Brod gave the board members a tour of the bus’s features. He also reported that there are 12 morning bus routes and 13 afternoon routes. The buses cover more than 1,000 miles each school day.

School Board chairman Frankie Bly says he believes this is the first time a BEA School Board meeting was held aboard a school bus.