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Chisago Lakes Schools

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January 27, 2023

12/16/2022 11:45:00 AM
North Branch School Board adopts levy numbers prescribed by MN Department of Education

North Branch School Board adopted a 2023 levy package last week that is about 80-percent controlled by the state.  In a presentation of its latest fiscal audit, CliftonLarsonAllen’s accountant  explained that “...the state legislature determines what portion of general education funding will be paid by local taxpayers.”  

The local levy will be increasing for District 138 in 2023 by $523,549 or approximately 5.4 percent.

North Branch will expect to spend— in all of its categories of outside funded programs and those locally supported— $42.3 million.  

It is difficult because of taxable market value changes, and new-build properties have been added  to the pool of taxpayers contributing revenue, to calculate property -specific impact of the levy.

 In North Branch School District’s situation the state contributes less on a per pupil basis, than it did in 2012.   The good news is that the basic state per pupil aid formula is increasing in 2023 by $296 over what was sent in general education aid in 2022.  The new student state aid will be $6,863 in North Branch.

Enrollment is the base for state funding in Minnesota, and enrollment is on the upswing after 10 years of fairly consistent loss in North Branch.  The district lost 20 percent average daily attendance, over the past 10 years, and is only just now rebounding.  According to the audit the district grew by eight pupils in 2022.  

District Director of Finance and Human Resources Dr. Todd Tetzlaff added that North Branch has been able to cut some costs (especially noting federal subsidies during covid which were general education needs from the Every Student Succeeds Act $2,223,370 of which, learning loss aid was $444,674.

The amount of about $5 million earmarked annually for debt service— has been trimmed by $123,000 due to state analysis of health of the accounts.

The district has built fund balances into good shape, which is a primary goal, Tetzlaff added.

The district will also not be borrowing against future cash flow for the third year-in-a row.  MN districts often sell aid anticipation certificates to bolster cash flow when state funding is delayed or insufficient cash is available.

On the spending side, North Branch now has 311 staff  (minus outside contract employees) and for 2022-2023 expects to have 317.  The gain will be in support and custodial areas.  Tetzlaff noted that districts are by nature personnel-heavy and there are costs the district can only react to like insurance and contributions to investments for  benefit/retirement programs.
All things considered North Branch sits in a fairly good place, according to the audit for the year prior and the levy hearing information.
There were no members of the public commenting at the hearing.

In other matters: Board member Kevin Bollmann got a traditional reproduction school bell and appreciation plaque for service since 2019.  (See photo.) Last week was his final meeting. Three incumbents; Sarah Grovender, Adam Trampe and Jesse LaValla and a newly-elected member Shelley Johnson,  will be sworn in in January.

The calendar for next year was reviewed for final action later—with a proposed change in parent-teacher conferences to what is hoped will be a better timeframe for participation by parents/guardians.  Supt. Sara Paul said there is  usually great turnout for pre-K to grade five,  but the older students not so much.  Approved in a first review was shifting conferences to the Thanksgiving break week, for two days in class, a conference day and then holiday break, for example.

Staff development was shifted to May from the usual March date.  The Board votes at a future meeting on this calendar for next year.

Supt. Paul reported the  number of students accessing post secondary level class credits is about 40 percent.  North Branch is putting some extra emphasis on improving high school grade scoring and individual GPA,  because colleges are now concerned about GPA history and not relying on entry exams (ACT, SAT) as in prior generations.

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