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USC Board told referendum needed

By Staff | Jun 22, 2020

Barbie Roessler of Ehlers, Inc., addresses the USC School Board as they discussed the steps needed in order to pass a referendum for the district this fall.

“This is it. This is your opportunity. You need it to pass.”

Those were the words of Barbie Roessler, a financial specialist from Ehlers, Inc., who addressed the United South Central School Board with regard to an operating referendum for the upcoming fall election.

Roessler shared this referendum would just be a renewal of an expiring referendum USC has had, which would not specify the referendum to any specific projects, but would help the school get funds for following school years. The financial specialist stated it would affect the people’s taxes, but the overall tax impact would be minimal.

“Approving the referendum means you are supporting your school. Your voters approved of your last referendum, and USC does a good job of informing their voters of what is needed on their part,” said Roessler.

If the referendum does not pass, the school will not get funds for the following year. USC qualifies for 49 percent of revenue for their fiscal year 2020-21 in state aid.

So why the referendum? Roessler explained that it is as simple as the state being unable to keep up with inflation costs.

“It’s just a sad fact. Other funding sources also have not kept pace with inflation,” she said.

The annual tax dollar increase for a district home in the range of $70,000 is about a $4 increase per year over the next 10 years. Members of the public in the district can visit the Department of Revenue’s website to see if they qualify for property tax refunds and deferrals.

More information regarding the school’s referendum will be released to the district later in the summer and fall before the November election.

The USC School Board passed the resolution related to renewing the expiring referendum revenue authorization and a calling for a special election and referendum in a roll call vote. It passed 6-0.

The School Board also received some information from their superintendent, Keith Fleming. He shared the Minnesota Department of Education has asked all of its school districts to have three learning options prepared for the upcoming fall. Those options must include plans for returning to school as normal, a hybrid plan of being in school and distance learning, and a long-term distance learning plan.

Fleming stated the MDE is currently getting input from families with regard to distance learning. He stated the MDE will not be announcing their plan for the fall school year until July 27.

“We have never done a hybrid learning program before, so we need to be prepared for anything to happen,” said Fleming.

School Board chairman Dale Stevermer asked Fleming if local boards would have a say in which plan they would be able to initiate. Fleming stated MDE has not stated whether they will allow local board control with regard to this specific issue.

Chuck Schulenberg of Wells Insurance Agency was also present at the meeting to discuss the schools 2020-21 property and liability insurance proposal. Schulenberg stated premiums were up as a result of workers compensation from the previous year. The total premium estimate for the school was set at $188,803.44, which the board approved.

The board also spent several minutes discussing the revised 2019-20 budget as well as the preliminary 2020-21 budget with USC’s finance manager Stacie Whiteside. Board members unanimously approved a resolution regarding fund balance transfers related to the emergency executive order by Governor Tim Walz, which allowed the board to transfer $10,000 from the general fund to the community education fund, transfer $30,000 from fiscal year 2020 restricted operating capital for student devices to restricted operating capital fiscal year 2021 and restrict $4,785 fiscal year 2021 operating capital for student devices, transfer $20,000 from fiscal year 2020 restricted operating capital for sealocating to restricted operating capital fiscal year 2021 and restrict $20,000 fiscal year 2021 operating capital for seal coating, and finally approved the director stipend of $6,010 for ECFE, School Readiness and Pathways II programs.

The USC School Board also:

Established board member per diem at $50 per meeting, all day meetings at $100 per meeting and other allowances such as a $600 annual per diem for the chair, $200 annual per diem for the treasurer and $200 per diem for the clerk of the USC School Board.

Approved the long term facilities maintenance 10-year plan and statement of assurances.

Considered and carried an approval of the MREA membership for 2020-21 and 2021-22 at $3,211.

Agreed to the shared staff arrangement between USC?District and the Southern Plains Education Cooperative, specifically with regard to a speech and language pathologist’s help at USC.

Carried a motion to approve the sale of one bus and two vans as surplus property.