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BEA’s 2020 levy set at 3.18% hike

By Staff | Dec 15, 2019

It was a busy night for the Blue Earth Area School Board on Monday, Dec. 9. In addition to their regular meeting, the board held a Truth in Taxation hearing and a work session after their board meeting.

Fiscal Services Coordinator Alan Wilhelmi led a brief review of the proposed tax levy. The board then unanimously passed a resolution to establish a tax levy of $2,389,920.61. This represents a 3.18 percent increase from the previous levy.

During the district reports physical education/health instructors Carol Weerts and Brenda Smith told the board about changes which have been occurring in physical education requirements.

“In 2004 we followed the recommended six national physical education standards,” Weerts explained. “In 2018 Minnesota adopted five K-12 academic standards in physical education which are to be fully implemented in all state school districts by the 2021-22 school year.”

Weerts and Smith explained to the board how they were phasing in new standards into the district.

“The purpose is to exercise our body and our brain so we can discover ourselves and become confident and competent participants for a lifetime of fun physical activity,” Smith added.

Rural Entrepreneurial Venture (REV) representatives Mary Kennedy, Annie Leibel and Emily Lang talked to the board about a new program REV is facilitating.

“It is called SHOP and stands for support, host, offer and participate,” Kennedy explained.

REV has scheduled a lunch and learn day for BEA ninth and 10th graders on Dec. 17.

“This is a time when students will be able connect with business owners and learn about their operations,” Leibel said. “It will give the students a chance to ask questions and become aware of the numerous job opportunities which exist in Faribault County.”

REV has also planned a full day business tour which will allow the ninth and 10th graders to view businesses first hand. The tour will be on Feb. 4, 2020.

“The goal is to provide students access to resources and a platform for building relationships,” Lang commented. “We want them to feel supported by the greater Blue Earth community and be encouraged to remain or return to the area.”

During his report, high school principal Greg Ewing informed the board 81 out of 86 juniors at BEA had taken the practice ACT test which was recently given at the school.

“Forty of the kids took the test on a Chromebook and the rest of them used paper and pencil,” Ewing said. “Part of the reason we were able to be a practice ACT site was because of the availability of Chromebooks for the students.”

Following the adjournment of the School Board meeting, a planning session was held to discuss the referendum.

Superintendent Mandy Fletcher reminded the board only one referendum vote could be held per year.

“We could vote again in April or May but it would be by mail ballot,” Fletcher explained.

The consensus of the board was to wait until November to hold the next referendum vote.

“This will give people a chance to digest the cuts we are going to have to make,” board chairperson Susan Benz said.

The board discussed what they had heard in the community about the failed referendum in November.

Many board members had people tell them they thought the referendum was going to pass so they did not vote. Others claimed there was not enough information about the referendum.

The board discussed ways they could reach out more and also considered hiring an outside consultant to assist with the next referendum.

For now, Fletcher offered this advice.

“Be a listener, when you are out in the community, listen to what people are saying,” Fletcher said. “We need to know what people like about the school, but we also need to know if there are changes which need to be made.”