The St. Michael-Albertville School Board unanimously accepted staff’s recommendation to keep the “no activities” policy in place for Wednesday evenings.
The board also approved new student referendum dollars, and heard an equity in education update.
A community group recently approached the board to request it reconsider the policy that prohibits student activities after 6 p.m. Wednesdays.
The policy is in place to free up a night for families, but the group said it is difficult to find replacement times for things like activity practices.
The board wanted broader input so it requested staff survey the community for feedback. Community Education then sent out 4,500 requests and received 1,100 responses. Of those, 61 percent said they support the current policy.
Five churches also said they support the current policy, and one church was open to change.
Supt. Jim Behle also said the board had 30 emails supporting the current policy. He thus said staff’s recommendation was not to change the policy, and the board unanimously agreed.
In other matters, the board took action regarding the board-approved referendum authority.
Through new legislation, all school districts can have a local levy option revenue of $424 per pupil. School boards now have authority to levy up to $300. Between the local option, $424, and the $300, that amounts to $724.
About $274 of the $300 is voter approved, so adding the additional $25.56 would bring in additional revenue of $154,000. Of that amount, the state pays for almost $108,000, leaving STMA taxpayers to cover the remaining $46,000.
“It’s a way to leverage some additional state aid where the state picks up 60 percent,” Supt. Behle later said.
The board approved the additional levy, which would cost $8 per year for a home valued at $200,000.
Behle did add that it’s entirely possible there would be no overall tax increase if other levy areas are decreased come budget time. Final levy approval is in December.
In other matters, Minnesota Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer was present with a legislative update.
She said her priority is equity in school funding, as STMA ranks dead last in the state’s per pupil funding. Kiffmeyer said she will meet monthly with STMA to come up with three to five pieces of legislation she can introduce.
Supt. Behle added, “We will work with SEE (Schools for Equity in Education) to come up with those pieces that all address equity funding, and we’re hoping one or two would get passed at next legislative session. We’ll try to work with school districts that are funded similarly.”
In other action, the board:
APPROVED refunding the 2006 bond for a better interest rate. The district hopes to save $5 million in interest over the life of bonds from 2017 until 2030, saving taxpayer dollars.