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NR School levy OK'd by voters

A $12.7 million levy was unanimously adopted by the 35 people present at the annual New Richmond School District meeting Monday night at the High School.

That is a 6.3 percent increase from last year, but less of an increase than the School District had projected.

While the debt service went up $75 for a $100,000 home last year and again this year, as predicted, the general fund went down due to an increase in student aid received by the District.

The mill rate is now 8.982, which means it went up by .392. That is equivalent to a $78 tax increase on a $200,000 home. The School District had predicted at rise of at least $150 on taxes for a $200,000 home.

Student aid is based on per student property wealth, according to Brian Johnston, director of fiscal and building operations for the School District. Johnston said that because the District had more students, more aid came in to help offset the debt service increase.

District Administrator Morrie Veilleux took a moment at the beginning of the meeting to recognize the hard work and dedication of the School Board.

"Given the kind of work this Board has done in the past two years and given the situation prior to that time, I want them to stand and be recognized," Veilleux said.

Veilleux reported on the highlights of the past year for the School District, which included opening the first two buildings as a result of the referendum passing, and the success of NR4Kids and the STEP programs.

A $100,000 cost overrun on the Starr Elementary project was due to some unforeseen difficulties with the renovation project and the decision to put in polished concrete floors.

"The $100,000 investment will have less than a two-year pay back," Veilleux said of the floors. "The savings will come in not having to maintain the floors with chemicals and manpower."

Veilleux said he was proud to report that Hillside Elementary came in $100,000 under budget and he encouraged people to visit Hillside Elementary if they have not already done so.

Construction of the new high school is well underway, reported Veilleux.

"All major foundation has been done on the high school and the block walls are up to grade," Veilleux said. "We are ahead of schedule on the building's block work and about a week behind on the landscaping."

Planning for the renovation of the current High School to become a Middle School will begin this fall, although actual work is not scheduled for awhile. Veilleux said they want to make "extra sure that nothing is missed at the building" before work begins. He wants no surprises, like at Starr Elementary.

Veilleux also addressed the question of the $500,000 operating cost referendum that was defeated last spring. He said the District has cut spending and experienced significant enrollment growth to cover those expenses originally requested in the referendum question.

"In planning, you can't get exact numbers," Veilleux said. "The significant enrollment growth and cutting spending will help run Hillside. We have also changed health care carriers for the staff this year and that has saved us $300,000 to $400,000."