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Chisago Lakes Schools

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October 26, 2020

10/2/2020 3:38:00 PM
Chisago Lakes School Board to levy reduced amount due to enrollment decreasing

In a mostly procedural meeting on Thursday, September 24, the Chisago Lakes School Board went over some future budget plans and their preference to stay in a hybrid model.

They certified the maximum levy of nearly $10.9 million, but that doesn’t mean the number can’t be reduced before the final meeting in December. At the October meeting, Director of Business Services Robyn Vosberg-Torgerson said they’ll review the truth-in-taxation meeting comments, the district audit and enrollment to see where they are at.

“We are working through everything and going through all of the new staffing,” Vosberg-Torgerson said. “We are using the COVID-19 relief funds currently, which is how we’re buying things, and we’ll have an update on those things at the next board meeting.”

The preliminary number is down from $11.2 million last year, which Vosberg-Torgerson said was mostly due to enrollment going down. She said the district is down 111 students from last year, which is a bit more than they anticipated. She said with home schooling becoming prevalent, they were hoping to be down only around 50 students.
She also explained that long term facility maintenence money fluctuates depending on the age of the district’s buildings and with the brand new Lakeside replacing the old one, it brought that state allowed money down.

The LED replacement lighting project the board was going to start on has been put on hold. Superintendent Dean Jennissen said there were a few factors, as there was another contractor who had interest in the project, as well as the general struggle with COVID-19 regulations currently.

Additionally, Director of Buildings and Grounds Steve Mikutowski recently resigned and is being replaced by Andy Wilhelmy. “We decided it would be wise to wait to get our new Buildings and Grounds Director in house for a few weeks before we take on a project like that,” Jennissen said. “Waiting does create a loss of a potential rebate from Xcel, but we’ve seen those come and go quite frequently, so we’d expect to see another one. We still want to do an LED project, but it’s just going to take a little bit more time.”

The board agreed to set Wednesday, October 14 for a closed meeting at 8 a.m. to discuss a “minor lawsuit” with Weber Construction in relation to the Taylors Falls construction project, according to Jennissen. “There was an issue at Taylors Falls that needed to be remedied, so we need to involve legal representation,” he said. He noted the meeting will be closed under attorney-client privilege. “We’re going to work towards a positive outcome,” he said.

In his end-of-meeting report, Jennissen also said that the district would be gearing up towards primary school  remodeling. “We do have some money that will be remaining in the bond and from the sale of the Lakeside property,” he explained. “Between those funding sources we can do a really good project. We’d be looking at an upgrade to the HVAC systems, the gym floor, bathrooms, adult bathrooms, temporary wall classrooms and a lot of different things, including re-purposing some of the spaces.

“Not sure where it’s going to lead but we have Wold Architects and ICS Consulting working on it and we’ll start to work on a process as it comes to Primary School.”

There was also discussion on keeping with the hybrid learning model when the second term commences in mid-November.

No motions were made at this meeting, and any action would likely be taken at the October meeting, but Jennissen wanted to get it on the board’s radar.

“Some of our younger grades could be in-person, but our discussion has centered around being safe and sustainable, and we’ve felt like hybrid is the best way to do that,” the superintendent said.

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