School board approves 1.44% levy boost

By Tara Brandl

The District No. 2904 School Board approved a levy increase of 1.44% at Monday night’s meeting which is an increase of $24,841.12 to $1,752,859.33.

Tracy Area High School Supt. Chad Anderson explained that the 2020-2021 formula allowance was $6,567, which was up from $6,438 in FY20. Also, the resident daily membership or number of kids that live in the district is 685.5.

In 2021-2022, that number is expected to drop to 675 and continue to fall, to 646 in 2022-2023.

Anderson also discussed the change in enrollment and the effect on the levies.

“The more kids you have, the higher your levy will be. We’re declining in enrollment, so that keeps it kind of lower,” Anderson said.

While enrollment has decreased — December enrollment at Tracy Area Public Schools is now at 665 students — the district did receive a favorable audit Monday night. The audit showed an increase in the district’s general fund of $532,392 to a total of $3,514,454.

“A lot of that has to do with the implementation of another new accounting standard, GASB 84,” Kyle Krueger with Hoffman & Brobst said. “That incorporated your student activities funds, any fiduciary funds, and scholarship trust funds into your general fund. So you got sort of an influx of cash for lack of a better term because of that new accounting standard.”

The unassigned fund balance decreased $207,223 to $1,480,717. The decrease was primarily due to reclassifications according to the district’s fund balance policy and unfavorable operating results.

The unassigned fund balance in the general fund amounts to approximately one-and-one-half months of operating expenditures, which is just under the district’s fund balance goal of two months of operating expenses.

“Nothing too alarming; the primary reason for that is some increased capital expenditures during the year, the entry way, various equipment purchases,” Krueger said.

The largest source of revenue for the district is from the state accounting for 78% of revenues. Property taxes account for 14%, followed by other local sources 4%, federal sources 2% and tuition contracts 2%.

The largest general fund expenditure for the district is for salaries and wages (55%) and employee benefits (14%). This is consistent with other area districts. Purchased services accounts for 21% of the budget, followed by supplies and materials 5%, capital expenditures 4% and other expenditures 1%. This is the same as the expenditures for fiscal year 2019.

Regular instruction accounted for the largest portion of the general fund expenditures followed by site, buildings and equipment.

• After discussion, the motion to make the first payment of the 2020-2021 membership dues to the Minnesota State High School League in the amount of $3,500 due Dec. 31, 2020, due to added MSHSL expenses from the COVID pandemic failed 0-5. An additional payment would also be due in February 2021.

“I’m personally going to vote against this,” said board member Ben Ludeman. “Not because $3,500 is a thing worth going to battle over. I was really disappointed in the leadership of the State High School League this fall. I felt their excuses and lack of leadership for fall sports was inexcusable. They changed the timeline several times, they played tricks on board members, all the rural board members voted in favor of starting sports when it was nice out and cases of COVID were low, so go at it until there is a reason to stop it. And the metro districts ignored that and acted as though they were surprised when they were short of money now and kept spending and acting like a giant bureaucracy. I’m not going to support that.”

“Somewhere along the line, someone should have adjusted instead of keeping spending,” said board Chair Rod Benson. “There are no activities happening, they shouldn’t be spending.”

The question was raised if not paying would have any consequences on student athletes this year.

“I have no idea what they are going to do,” Supt. Anderson said. “We’ve paid our MSHSL dues.”

“There isn’t a law at the next meeting we couldn’t vote to pay this if we thought there were consequences later,” Ludeman said. “In my opinion it sends the message that we are not your, sheep.”

“I agree with the message,” Benson said. “And it needs to be sent. My reservation is only is there consequences for those that pay it and those that didn’t. I don’t know. I personally don’t have a problem waiting a month or two and let them think about it a little bit versus just, ‘Oh, it’s our turn, let’s just pay it.’ They’ll continue the discussion versus, ’Now we have that fixed, let’s move on and spend more.’”

The MSHSL is forming a new finance committee to look at dues in the future.  TAHS Activities Director Bill Tauer is on the MSHSL board but was not at the school board meeting Monday evening.

In other board news:

• The board approved the resignation of TAHS para-professional Sherman Yang.

• The board approved the hiring of Mrs. Pam Anderson as library support for the 2020-2021 school year.

• The board approved the hiring of Jessica Kruse and Mercie Minette as TAHS para-professionals for the 2020-2021 school year.

• A link to the Tracy Area Elementary School holiday concert can be found on the school’s website: