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State funding changes stand to benefit Park Rapids School District

 The Park Rapids School Board approved a long-term facility maintenance plan which based on changes at the legislature should bring additional dollars into the district.  School district business manager Carol Hutchinson reported to the board Monday legislation this past session changed, eliminating health and safety and deferred maintenance funding, and creating a new Long Term Facilities Maintenance Revenue. The change makes facility funding more equitable across the state, Hutchinson said. LTMF revenue is an amount based on age of the buildings and pupil units.  

Hutchinson explained, “Districts are required to board-approve a 10 year facility plan each year which encompasses plumbing, electrical, mechanical systems, interior surfaces, building hardware and equipment, the building and envelope, and all of the health and safety items.”  Estimated revenue for each of the three years under the new funding formula is $282,995 (2016-17), $446,133 (2017-18) and $604,389 (2018-19). Hutchinson said the district should see a significant increase in funding from 2015-16 based on the existing law, $75,848 in health and safety, and $89,972 in deferred maintenance with a relatively small tax.  The previous health and safety and deferred maintenance revenues will no longer exist and will be replaced with the new funding formulas and new levy.  

Hutchinson said under the old formula the district never had enough in these funds to fully maintain its facilities. She calls the new formula and additional funds a “huge step in the right direction and adds a lot of stability.”  According to Hutchinson, on a $200,000 residential homestead property the estimated annual LTFM levy would cost $25 in 2016-17, $40 in 2017-18, and $54 in 2018-19, less the current health and safety and deferred maintenance levy of $15.

Food prices increase  The school board approved food service price increases for the 2015-16 school year.  Breakfast for grades 1-12 and adult increased 5 cents. Grades 1-4 will pay $1.40; grades 5-12, $1.65 and adults, $2.20.  Lunch prices increased 10 cents. Grades K-4 will pay $2.25; grades 5-8, $2.35; grades 9-12, $2.55 and adults $3.60.  All kindergarten students will receive free breakfast. Students who qualify for reduced meals will receive free breakfast and lunch.     The board also approved the Teacher Mentor Program which pairs veteran teachers with new teachers to the district. Mentor Program Facilitators will receive a $500 stipend and mentors a $250 stipend. Mentors and mentees also have the opportunity to earn continuing education credits.

  The board approved Park Rapids Area Clay Target Shooting Club to participate in fall league.     The board approved the retirement of Joan Dahl, paraprofessional after 36 years of “dedication to the students of Park Rapids Area Schools.