The Menahga School Board set its final levy at the maximum allowed – $1,488,832 – at their Dec. 21 meeting.

This is a 3.46 percent, or $49,730, increase from last year’s levy of $1,439,102.

The payable 2021 levy includes $403,346 for the general fund, $40,504 for community service, and $1,044,982 for general debt service.

Regarding the current budget, Superintendent Kevin Wellen said, “This is a unique year, due to COVID, and some of the factors that happened.”

The budget originally proposed $12,015,498 in general fund revenue for 2020-21.

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“Now with 216, at last count, students homeschooling, our revenue in that general area dropped to $10,537,563. We did get $491,741 in COVID-19 grants, and our food service revenue dropped somewhat, too,” he said. Food services expenses rose, however, due to the need for additional staff and packaging because self-serve is not allowed.

The district has been able to “hold down” expenditures, Wellen continued. The adopted budget projected $12,718,076 in general fund expenses. The district anticipates spending $12,537,468. Wellen noted that the COVID grants had to be spent on COVID-related needs. The district spent $415,640 of those funds during this fiscal year.

Expenses will exceed revenues by $2,138,318 rather than the $712,481 deficit projected in the original budget, “which means we’re down $1.5 million dollars,” Wellen explained, “which is almost all attributed to kids not being here. Kids don’t show up, we lose about $10,000 a kid.”

Wellen shared the audited fund balance. The beginning balance of $3,273,602 will be reduced by the expected $2,138,318 deficit. “If the state does not do something to help us out on offsetting those lost revenues, our fund balance will drop to $1,135,284,” he said.

A 3 percent increase in taxes translates to about $15 or $20 for the year on a median property value of $100,000, Wellen said.

Farewells to three board members

The board accepted Durwin Tomperi’s letter of resignation, effective Jan. 4. Tomperi was elected to the Menahga City Council in the November election, having served on the Menahga School Board for 17 years.

Bob White declined to remain on the school board so he can continue as athletic director.

Board member Brad Goehrig, who has served for 12 years, is retiring.

In other business, the school board did as follows:

  • Learned that Menahga High School is only one of 30 in the state teaching in person.

  • Accepted a Wadena County CARES Grant in the amount of $74,166.

  • Approved all fall coaching salaries in full, with the head volleyball coach’s pay to be prorated per the superintendent’s discretion.

  • Capped open enrollment at 88 students for grades K-12, effective for the 2021-22 school year.

  • Accepted the letter of resignation from Amy Lillquist, paraprofessional, effective Dec. 2.

  • Denied a leave-of-absence request from Maggie Peterson, part-time paraprofessional, beginning Dec. 23 for the remainder of the school year.

  • Set Menahga City Hall and Wolf Lake Lions Hall as the official polling locations.

The board will hold a special organizational meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 5 at the high school/middle school media center.