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New Nevis School levy includes voter-approved funds

Nevis School

The Nevis School District approved a $724,703 property tax levy this week, up from this year's $606,821.

The board had established a preliminary levy of $631,100 in September that did not take into account the $126 per resident pupil operating levy, which will expire, or the results of the November election, superintendent Steve Rassier explained at the truth in taxation hearing.

Voters approved an operating levy of $252 per resident pupil, which will generate an additional $82,905. This compares with approximately $36,000 annually via the expiring operating levy.

Rassier included previous year's levy amounts in the report, noting the state takeover of the general education levy in 2001 - when the district levied $1.4 million - made a significant reduction in local property taxes paid for education. The amounts have ranged from $167,256 in 2002 to $818,365 in 2007.

Since 2001, "we have seen flat state funding for education while operational costs continue to increase," Rassier said. "As a result of these factors, local levies have increased over the past several years in order to provide the financial resources that this school district needs."

An excess balance in the debt service that was created through refinancing resulted in a reduction of $67,148 in 2011. But that will be only $8,235 in 2012.

"While we see a significant increase in the local levy from 2011 compared with 2012, the average levy over the past six years is $725,550, which is slightly above the proposed levy for the upcoming tax year," Rassier pointed out.

The fiscal audit for the year ending in June "indicated significant growth" in the fund balance, Rassier reminded the board.

The district's net assets increased $495,693 "as a result of the current year's operations," Justin Burchill of Brady Martz told the board in October.

But "a large percentage of the district wealth is in the form of receivables from the state," Rassier said of the 60-40 funding shift.

"In spite of major economic concerns and state payment shifts, the financial status of the Nevis School District is excellent," Rassier assured the board this week. "Our budgets have been balanced in the past, we continue to see increases in our fund balances and our voters have voted an increase in our operating levy - a real plus.

"Along with these positive financial notes, our students continue to excel both academically and in extra-curricular offerings," he said.

In other action, the board:

n Approved a $3,600 grant that will provide archery equipment and certified volunteer instructors for students in sixth and seventh grades.

Local turkey hunters' organizations - National Wild Turkey Federation in partnership with the Tall Pine Toms and North Central Gobblers - will implement the program.

Students will be using compound bows.

The program, athletic director Bryan Wormley explained, will promote responsibility, safety and respect. Physical education teachers will also be receiving training.

Jared Hoefs of the NWTF said the Park Rapids chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Nevis Fire Department and Minnesota Darkhouse and Angling Association contributed funds for the program.

n Approved revised attendance policies, defining excused and unexcused absences. The policies are now in a single document.

After 14 unexcused or truant absences per semester, credit can be withheld.

The principal, not the parent, will determine the validity of an excuse.

n Approved Scott Kramer as head boys basketball coach and Andy Lindow (boys) and Leah Walters (girls) assistant coaches.

n Accepted the resignation of head baseball coach Rusty Uscola.

n Approved James Hallaway as a regular route bus driver, a position created by the resignation of Chris Gatewood.

n Approved Katrina Carrier as an educational assistant for a student who's transitioning into the work force.

n Accepted the retirement of Patricia Dietenberger as janitor.

n Will continue to meet on the fourth Monday of the month; the proposal to meet on the second Monday conflicted with the city council's meeting date.