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North Crawford School Board approves budget and tax levy
North Crawford

NORTH CRAWFORD - At their regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 24, the North Crawford School Board approved the 2018-29 original budget and tax levy.

The first version of the budget, presented at the annual meeting in September, called for a general fund (Fund 10) loss of $65,208. Due to increases in several revenue areas, the district is now projecting a balanced budget.

Because revenue and expenses continue to be modified and refined in the first few weeks of school, the board was able to approve a budget which had been refined with updated information. For instance, school districts don’t find out what their actual state aid will be until October 15.

The district’s tax levy will decrease this year. At the annual meeting, the tax levy was projected at $1,662,706 (a 10.96 percent decrease from the prior year). After receiving results of the third Friday enrollment count and 2018 Equalized State Aid, the actual total levy is now $1,728,662 (a 7.43 percent decrease from the prior year).

The tax levy is determined by a formula that takes into account total state aid received by the district, with a cap on the amount of funds a district is allowed to raise. Districts have a state imposed revenue limit, calculated through the ‘revenue limit formula.’ Generally, more state aid results in less property taxes.

Although down, the tax levy did not fall as far as projected at the annual meeting due to increased open enrollments into the district, and decreased enrollments out of the district. The net result with enrollment was an increase in “membership,” by twelve.   Calculation of membership is based on a three-year average, so at $10,000 per member, with the district’s three-year average at nine, this gave the district an additional $90,000 in state aid.

Membership is not the same as head count, and is calculated with a formula that takes into account summer school as well as younger students who only attend part-time. However, as Business Manager Demetri Andrews explained, “it is membership that drives the calculation of state aid.”

In addition to the increase in state aid from a per-pupil increase in sparsity aid, and state per pupil aid, the levy amount was also impacted by rising property values (up 3.94 percent), and receipt of major state grants for school safety and the afterschool program.

Changes since September

In addition to the calculation of state aid for the district, there have also been other changes that have impacted the budget since the annual meeting in September.

Students from Wauzeka-Steuben participate in Spanish distance learning class taught by a North Crawford teacher. This has resulted in anticipated revenue to the district from CESA-3 of $30,000. Since the annual meeting, the district was also notified of being awarded an additional $20,000 from round two of the DOJ School Safety Grant. Because of an increase in low income students, the district anticipates a $30,000 increase in SAGE/AGR funding.

Due to an increase in enrollment in the district of special needs students, the district will spend $40,000 to hire an additional paraprofessional, which was not an expense that was anticipated in September.

Budget highlights

Andrews detailed what he descbribed as “budget highlights” in his report to the board:

·       Switching to Quartz Health Insurance will save the district $160,000

·       DOJ School Safety Grant, with the award from the second round, added a total of $60,000

·       Receipt of the 21st Century Learning Grant added $115,000 for the ‘Beyond the Bell’ after school program

·       The district will purchase new science curriculum this year at a cost of $30,000 (reading curriculum was purchased last year for $36,000)

·       State sparsity aid was increased by $100 per students, increasing revenue by $50,000

·        State per pupil aid was increased by $204 per student, increasing revenue by $95,000

School safety

Superintendent Brandon Munson reported to the board that he would have a detailed report at the November board meeting about how the $20,000 round two DOJ School Safety Grant Funds would be spent.

“We completed our ALICE training for staff at a Friday inservice, with active shooter training,” Munson said. “While it is a disturbing experience for everyone that undergoes it, the teachers have expressed appreciation for the additional safety tools the training offered them.”

Munson explained that they plan to hold a ‘parent information’ night in November, and then will finalize plans to roll the training out to students in an age-appropriate fashion.

Interim Middle School/High School Principal Holly Jones reported that the new School Resource Officer, Liz Volten, is on the job and already having a positive impact in the school.

“She hit the ground running from the moment she walked in, and has been a valuable resource in many situations,” Jones said. “She’s been so busy getting to know the students and the school, she hasn’t even had time to find her desk yet.”

Jones explaned that Volten plans to spend more time in the elementary school, to build relationships with students of all ages.

Special education

Special Education Director Kim Littel reported that the district had added three students with disabilities since the school year started, with another student coming to the district in January.

The board voted to hire Sara Harless for expanded hours as a paraprofessional. This was necessitated by the planned arrival of a special needs student with need for sign language services in January.

In addition, the board discussed and approved hiring an additional paraprofessional to address needs within the district that are not being met due to lack of staff time.

“We envision this position as working more with regular education students who don’t currently have an IEP, but who require some special support,” Littel explained. “This will also allow us to cover other needs, for example some bus line supervision.”

Munson reported that as Miss Kelch is currently on leave, Chuck Bolstad is back for a couple of months to provide middle and high school counseling services.

Last, Littel reported that the ‘Student Intervention Teams’ initiative is underway with the elementary and middle school students.

“We’re digging in to look at student needs and interventions,” Littel explained. “This procedure will move everyone in a direction to change the pre-referral process for special education.”

In other business, the board:

·       heard that 121 people had attended the ‘Colossal Fossils’ presentation, which was judged to be a great success

·       heard about new tools being used in elementary classrooms to help students increase reading skills

·       heard about how middle school students continue to volunteer with the Second Harvest Food Pantry distribution

·       approved Chris Wettstein as boys basketball head coach, with Joe Childs as his assistant, and Jeremy Fradette and John Powell as middle school coaches

·       approved Mike Allbaugh as girls basketball head coach, with Alexis Mack as assistant coach, and Ritch Stevenson and Tyler Patzner as middle school coaches

approved Eric Hady as wrestling head coach, with Adam Hady as assistant coach, and Tyler Finnell as middle school coach