5/3/2021 8:34:00 AM North Branch Board gets bond rating upgrade news
North Branch city council members aren’t the only officials in that city gleeful over a financial industry investment rating upgrade this year.
The North Branch School Board learned last week the district’s rating is newly upgraded one step to Baa2 following a recent reassessment of certain fiscal conditions. District Financial Director Todd Tetzlaff told the Board the outlook was improved to “positive” which means things are moving in the right direction and upon future consideration of factors like housing value, enrollment, debt management— and there could be another upgrade.
The Board work session last week had time set aside for an exchange with state legislators on the agenda, but state Rep. Anne Neu Brindley was the only one who could make it. (Remotely by Internet.)
She told the Board she supports local control as a principal. The debate on revising contract negotiations parameters should be up to locals instead. She mentioned the practice of cutting the less senior for more tenured staff, or “last in first out,” as an example of what should be a local practice.
The Minnesota House barely approved a summer school funding measure that would direct one-time monies into helping students catch up on covid-related academic losses. She cautioned that there’s going to be further House-Senate debate on this summer school bill, and districts shouldn’t expect to see this resolved until after mid-May.
(Checking the vote on summer school HF1064, however, Neu Brindley was a negative vote (bill passed 69-63) with Brian Johnson and Bob Dettmer also opposed. The Press left a message and e-mail to see if there’s a clarification.)
Rep. Dettmer is a co-author on a school transportation funding increase HF 917 which Neu Brindley told the School Board she thinks is necessary.
The bill provides for districts to apply for one-time aid covering up to 70 percent of unfunded transportation costs. Tetzlaff said if this becomes law, North Branch is eligible for an additional $473,000 in 2022.
Districts get revenues from state government based on enrollment reported in the fiscal year just ended— but with shutdowns and enrollment redirected to covid distance learning, Neu Brindley said this year was “an anomaly.” She supports the state using one time federal aid to make districts “whole” relative to their usual revenues and discarding the enrollment formula temporarily.
Board Chair Tim MacMillan thanked her for working on so many complex issues and for being accessible, adding, “I know you are dedicated to equity in funding” for all students.
The Board, minus members Sarah Grovender and Tanya Giese, got an update on the high school workforce initiative. The ProStart culinary students made lunch for a host of local manufacturing reps and officials who are working with Principal Coleman McDonough and Director of Learning David Treichel on a retrofit of high school vo-tech programming. A representative from the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association was among the visitors who toured high school instructional labs and shops and they gave input on equipment that would translate well to actual trades and manufacturing assets in use. They learned which skills are most marketable and needed. McDonough said it was “an awesome event.”
North Branch is working towards implementing courses that will graduate a successful and realtime-trained student workforce as an option for those who are not pursuing a four-year degree.
Board member Heather Osagiede asked if the high school has a recognition planned that might echo the accolades that college-bound kids now receive. McDonough responded that there’s something like that in the works.