Mitchell school district’s assessed value tops $1BSchool board OKs $36 million in 2012-13 budgets for public schools, MTI.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
Assessed property in the Mitchell School District is worth more than $1 billion for the first time ever.
That fact was revealed Monday night as the Board of Education approved 2012-2013 budgets for Mitchell School District and Mitchell Technical Institute Monday night. Taxed property in the district is now assessed at $1.043 billion, according to Business Manager Steve Culhane, a slight increase from last year, when it was just shy of the billion-dollar mark. That’s a 7 percent increase in value.
Culhane said general fund tax levies for the next budget year will be $2.322 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for ag properties, a slight drop from the current $2.388. The levy for owner-occupied properties, $3.965 this year, will be $4.029 next year, and the levy on commercial properties, $8.491 this year, will be bumped to $8.628 per $1,000 of assessed valuation next year.
The school district’s annual budget is $24,001,105. That’s up from $22,207,735 last year.
The MTI budget will be $42,397,668, which includes more than $17.4 million for a new trades center. That’s a drop of more than $600,000 from the previous year, largely due to the loss of grant money, the board was told.
Most of the school district’s general fund budget — 85 percent — is for salaries and benefits. No member of the public spoke during the public hearing and both budgets were passed unanimously.
The school district budget is based on an enrollment of 2,540 students, identical to last year, but Superintendent Joe Graves said there could be “a small increase” in enrollment.
“It depends on the kindergarten numbers, largely,” Graves said.
There has been an increase in the kindergarten class size in the last two years, he said, which leads him to believe it will happen again. But Graves said the district will know more next month.
The school board, while holding its annual meeting at the Mitchell Technical Institute’s Capital Street campus, wrapped up the business of the 2011-2012 school year and launched into its new year during the meeting.
The board also:
• Approved a new, two-year negotiated agreement with the Mitchell Education Association from 2012-2014. It passed 4-0. Board member Eric Christensen abstained, since his wife is a teacher.
The MEA’s total compensation, including pay, benefits and extra compensation, for the two-year deal is more than $10.3 million annually, with teachers getting an additional $239,000 per year to split under the new deal.
All full-time employees will receive $1,250 pay increases annually during the deal. The district also bumped pay an additional $2,200, for one year only, for certified speech therapists, whom Graves said are increasingly difficult to retain.
The district is still negotiating with the Mitchell Classified Association, which represents secretaries, para-educators, custodians and food-service workers.
• Saw board members Neil Putnam and Theresa Kriese sworn in for new three-year terms of office. They were elected over two challengers in the June 5 election.
• Elected Kriese as board president, and Dana Price as vice president. Both were elected without opposition. Kriese then appointed Culhane as the board’s clerk.
• Approved the first reading of a change in open enrollment, setting deadlines of the last Friday in September and last Friday in January as deadlines, although they can be waived. It was one of four policy changes the board gave initial approval to during the meeting.
• Passed a 21-item consent agenda, which, without a vote on each item, re-appointed district administrators, named The Daily Republic as the official district newspaper, recognized bargaining agents for district employees, and continued to set area banks as depositories for school district funds.
• Set breakfast and lunch prices, which have a 10-cent increase, as well as activity fees, which will not change, for the school year. Elementary meals will cost $2.40, while middle school and high school meals will cost $2.50.
The dime increase in meals was forced upon the district by new “healthy foods” federal policies imposed on schools, Graves and board members said, and a loss in funding was threatened without the change. Graves said he feels if implemented slowly, students will adjust and learn to eat healthier, which is the goal.
• Approved the elementary school student handbook. There were no significant changes, the board was told.
• Approved a material bid for the 2012-2013 shop house. Five were sought but only two bids were submitted and one was incomplete. ProBuild’s bid was $37,997.92, about $2,000 more than last year, was accepted.
• Approved continued membership in the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, and the payment of dues. Graves said he had already approved the payment before the board acted.
• Was told that the district is still negotiating with its insurance carrier over damage from the May hailstorm.
• Was told almost all of the air conditioning at Mitchell Middle School has been out for the summer, making it rather unpleasant for Culhane, who works there, as well as custodians and other staffers.
• Learned the new high school gymnasium floor is almost completed, Graves said, and bleachers will be brought in next week.