School Board OKs levy carryover

NEW ULM — The District 88 Board of Education approved a carryover of a previous operating levy after discussing options for the levy Thursday afternoon.

Last month the board held a meeting seeking public input on whether to renew the levy that raises $379 per pupil per year from local property taxes. At this time the district has adequate funding, but a continuation of the levy would allow expansion of programing.

The board had four options to discuss. The first was the extension of the current levy, second was to allow expiration of the levy, third was to renew the levy at a lower amount and fourth to convert up to $300 of existing levy with board approval.

Superintendent Jeff Bertrang reminded the public this levy was currently in effect. The board was choosing whether to extend it.

A public survey showed three-fourths of the public supported extension of the levy. Of those who were against the extension, half said they would support it at a lower amount.

The board opted to approve the fourth option. This option allows the district to keep some of the tax levy, while giving the tax payers a slight break.

Board member Christie Dewanz said the conversion option also gives the board the option of reducing the per pupil formula in future years. If next year the district does not need the additional revenue they have the option of reducing it below $300.

Board member Jonathan Schiro said in his mind the $300 is necessary to stay competitive.

“We need to continue offering programs that we’re doing and we need to continue to grow,” he said.

Board Chair Duane Winter said they owed it to the students to be up to date on technology. In addition the district has made it through its first year with a new building without incident, but next year could bring unexpected charges. The additional $300 would help the school prepare for expenses.

The board unanimously approved a motion to convert over $300 per pupil from the previous operating levy.

The approval is for a five year period. The board would have the option of maintaining the $300 levy for all five years, but they could choose to lower the levy each year if the extra funds were no longer needed.

In other news the district will hold two open house events next week. Parents and the public will be invited to tour school buildings at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 29, and Wednesday, Aug. 30. Superintendent Jeff Bertrang said it was an opportunity for people who missed last year’s open house to see the new high school and see the renovation done at the older sites.