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Menahga School sets maximum preliminary levy

At the Monday, Sept. 19 meeting, the board postponed the purchase of a batting cage until more construction details were decided.

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The batting cage at Menahga School is in need of repair. "It's bad. It is what it looks like," said Superintendent Jay Kjos. The youth baseball program and booster clubs are willing to chip into the purchase of a new cage.
Contributed / Menahga Public School
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The Menahga School Board certified the preliminary payable 2023 levy at $1,748,481, the maximum allowable amount set by state formula. That is a $44,972, or 2.64%, increase from last year’s levy.

They met Monday, Sept. 19.

Board chair Andrea Haverinen commented that the board traditionally sets the preliminary levy at the maximum, then adjusts the final levy in December.

“It kinda handcuffs us if we don’t,” said Superintendent Jay Kjos. “The math isn’t finished yet.” The Minnesota Department of Education “will continue to work the numbers right up until that last board meeting in December when we meet, and then we’ll know at that time what we can underlevy and save our constituents money and be conservative.”

Haverinen made the motion to set the preliminary levy at the maximum, “with it being understood the final levy certification and current year budget review will occur during the regular board meeting.” It passed unanimously.

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They set the truth-in-taxation hearing for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 20 at the media center. The regular meeting will follow.

Building and grounds improvements

The board postponed the purchase of a batting cage until more construction details were decided.

The board motion stated the amount is not to exceed $13,500. The Cal Ripken Baseball League and booster clubs have agreed to share 49% of the cost, with the school district covering the remaining 51%. The league is also donating excavating expenses.

In its consent agenda, the board approved the purchase of a gate by the elementary playground and a new flag on the U.S. Hwy. 71 side of the school.

The board discussed the need for a new playground at its Sept. 12 work session. The current equipment is not ADA compliant and is in some disrepair. Kjos reported that parts would cost $36,000 and another $30,000 for labor. Brand-new equipment is estimated at $180,000.

Business Manager Kyle Bergem said there are COVID funds that haven’t yet been earmarked. He noted that other districts have used those dollars for similar projects.

In other business, the school board did as follows:

  • Approved the air conditioning unit replacement proposal by Johnson Controls, not to exceed $43,000.
  • Accepted a letter of resignation from paraprofessional Bethany Teets, effective Aug. 15.
  • Approved work assignments for paraprofessionals Shyla Netland, Kennieth Skillings, Nicole Odens and Jessica Pietila, and a long-term substitute assignment for Willard (Bill) Hodge.
  • Approved contracts with Pam Johnson, elementary special education teacher; Jolene Harris, student support coordinator; and Amanda Novack, casual substitute teacher, both beginning with the 2022-23 school year;
  • Approved an additional class advisor for both the junior and senior level, with one advisor at $1,000 stipend or two advisors at a $750 stipend.
  • Approved the lane change requests for Kayla Huttunen, Kasey Schorn and Maria Ness.
  • Approved a contract with eLuma for speech services, totaling $96,034, plus $300 per assessment. The state reimburses 50% of the cost.
  • Accepted a $500 donation to Bingo for Books from the Menahga Gateway Lions.
  • Approved an out-of-state travel request by FFA to attend the national convention in Indianapolis, Ind., Oct. 24-30, and for the district to pay an amount equal to expenses within the state lines.
  • Approved an out-of-state travel request from band and choir to travel to Memphis and Nashville from March 15-20, 2023, with the district paying travel expenses within the state.
  • Approved the meal prices for the 2022-23 school year as follows: Breakfast: PreK-8, 90 cents; Grades 9-12, $1.10; adult/guest, $2.25. Lunch: PreK-8, $2.70; Grades 9-12, $2.80; adult/guest, $4.95.
  • Resolved to say the Pledge of Allegiance at public school board meetings where there is a quorum. 
  • Approved the draft of the audited financial statements. Eide Bailly gave the district a clean, unmodified opinion.
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Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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