School district levy bump reflects vote

By Per Peterson

Tracy Area High School Supt. Chad Anderson tried to avoid casting a “gloom-and-doom” pall over Monday’s Truth-In-Taxation portion of the regular District 2904 School Board meeting. However, facing a continuous slide in enrollment, that task was arduous at best.
Anderson presented, and the board approved, a levy of $1,621,297 — a 4.54% increase, which will be submitted to the Minnesota Department of Education this week. The increase stems from the referendum approved by voters last November — an unavoidable consequence of declining enrollment.
The school district’s Average Daily Membership (enrollment) in 2010-2011 was 756, and by 2019-20, that number is projected to fall to 684 (enrollment stands at 700 today).
“The next couple years we’ll lose about 30 more students, and hopefully that’s the point where things will level off a little bit,” Anderson said. “I don’t want to scare everybody, but when you have $10,000 (in state aid) per child and you lose 50 kids — that’s just something that we need to be mindful of.
“Every single board meeting we have the enrollments, so you guys don’t have any surprises — you know exactly where it has been and where it’s going,” Anderson added.
Anderson said the levy amount is partially determined by Adjusted Pupil Units (students, multiplied by the weighted amount per student — 1.0 for those in K-6 and 1.2 for students in grades 7-12). He said the more students, the more dollars the district receives.
“In order to make up for that loss of revenue, districts will increase their referendum amount per student,” he said. “We increased our referendum amount per student last November with a voter-approved referendum. This question on the ballot allowed us to generate additional education revenue. The revenue is provided through a combination of local property taxes levies and state aid. We can use this revenue for any operating capital expenses.”

For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.