The negotiation team shared terms and changes from previous agreements that include salary and co-curricular increases from 21 to 22 percent to 22 to 23.3 percent, 403(b) increase of $25 to $150 per month, an increase to $2,000 to the voluntary employee beneficiary association (VEBA) tax-exempt plan used by its members and eligible dependents to pay for eligible medical expenses, a stipend for teaching college courses of $100 per credit per semester and carrying two personal days forward.
“The 2021-23 negotiations represent an opportunity to increase competitiveness and close salary gaps with our neighboring districts,” Superintendent Gregg Parks said. “Rarely do we have an opportunity to replace such a large segment of our senior staff with more junior staff members. The board felt they should take advantage of this reduction in overall salaries to make a long-term commitment to our teaching staff.”
Parks added that the district is seeing $162,000 in savings this school year due to the replacement of several retiring teachers with new teachers.
The board certified the payable 2022 preliminary levy that must be sent to the county auditor by Sept. 30.
The proposed 2022 levy is a 4.98 percent increase from the payable 2021 levy. The 2022 total is $1,223,541, which is the maximum limitation, to allow for any adjustments prior to the Dec. 20 final certification.
“The levy increase is primarily a result of the addition of the Up North Learning Center,” Parks said. “This is our Level 4 special education program, which was developed in cooperation with five other school districts. The levy increased by $85,000 to account for the lease agreement we have with the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley District that owns the facility.”
Parks said at the present time no students from Nevis School are using the facility.
The board set the district’s truth-in-taxation meeting to discuss the current budget and identify the next fiscal year's tax impact based upon the payable levy for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 20 in the school media center and via Zoom.
Indoor air quality project
The board had previously approved plans to move forward with an indoor air quality project to increase airflow and dehumidify classrooms currently without these capabilities.
The plan combined the use of $205,827 in ESSER II funds, $300,000 of ESSSER III funds and $130,000 of earmarked long-term facility maintenance funding. The total projected cost is $636,000.
The district accepted the low bid of $465,750 from Peterson Sheet Metal for the air quality project. Others bidding on the project were Ackerman Plumbing and Heating ($559,359) and Leading Edge Mechanical ($678,000).
NAC provided the only bid of $125,200 for the temperature controls and building automation system.
“This is a very specialized field with limited vendors within our area with experience working with our current Alerton BAS,” Parks said.
There were three contractors who submitted bids for the electrical work. The low bid of $34,966 from Durgin Electric was accepted. Others who bid were Avenson Electric ($45,310) and Northern States Electric ($63,000).
In other business the board:
Heard highlights of the MCA III state testing results and interventions planned for students with low test scores by principal Brian Michaelson and teacher Jodi Sandmeyer.
Awarded the milk bid to Prairie Farms, a division of Land o' Lakes, the only bidder for milk products for the 2021-22 school year.
Accepted donations totaling $3,590, including a $1,375 donation from Arvig Enterprises, $415 for the school book club that 41 students participate in, $800 for volleyball and an anonymous $400 donation for the Indian Education Program.
Heard the district’s Certified Nursing Assistant and agriculture programs will help prepare students to fill jobs in the area.
The next school board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 25, in the school media center and on Zoom. A listening session where the public can share ideas and concerns with a board member is scheduled for 6:15-6:45 p.m. prior to the school board meeting in the school cafeteria.