School fund balances increase

By Per Peterson

The Tracy Area Public Schools District No. 2904 school board on Monday approved a levy increase for 2019 of 3.78%.

Last year’s total of $1,621,297 went up to $1,682,548 — an increase of $61,251.

The Legislature and governor establishes overall tax policy for the state and have the sole authority to create school levy options and control the amount of state aid and tax bases used for levies. School boards participate in the state education programs for the district’s children and are financed entirely by levies or a combination of levy and state aid.

The board held its annual Truth-in-Taxation meeting Monday, during which they were also updated on the latest school audit, which showed an increase in the General Fund balance.

“The main point to take away from tonight is we are experiencing some sharp decline in enrollment,” said TAHS Supt. Chad Anderson. “Since 2010, we’ve probably dropped close to 100 kids.

“This year, we’re remaining steady with our enrollment.”

Anderson noted that the next two graduating classes will be about 70 per grade.

“The next two years will be the rocky ones,” he said. “After that, hopefully we will level off. When we look at spending, we’re trying to prepare for that. This year, we had a positive audit report.”

Anderson said state funding trails inflation by almost $600 per pupil since 2003, which equates to about $525 million annually. He also said the levies for districts, including No. 2904, on average is going up, while the revenue and state aid is on the decline.

The ag tax credit that was passed into law in 2017 and provides more than $40 million in tax relief statewide, resulted in a total savings of $65,692 for TAPS. The ag bond credit can be found on the Proposed Taxes for 2019 statement.

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