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Tax levy, mill rate go up

After a 7.1 percent drop in last year’s tax levy, a $14.1 million tax levy -- an increase of 7.98 percent -- was approved for the 2014-15 school year during the Sept. 15 annual meeting of the New Richmond School District.

“The budget we prepared this year is approximately $500,000 under the revenue limit, so technically we could raise the levy more, but we wanted to keep it under and not go to the full maximum this year,” said Director of Fiscal and Building Operations Brian Johnston.

The school board approved a $31.25 million budget for the upcoming school year at the meeting, which is a $1.063 million increase from last year. The mill rate also went up from last year, from 11.57 to 12.02, a .448 point increase. That comes to a total increase of $45 per $100,000 of property value, from $1,157 (2013-14) to $1,202 (2014-15). Despite the increase, the mill rate is still lower than two years ago when it was 12.65.

“Our enrollment is also up slightly this year after flattening out last year,” Johnston said. “We seem to be growing again, which is a good thing. We have also had to add staff in order to account for the increase in students.”

During his report, Johnston reported on staffing increases, including adding six and a half classroom teachers from kindergarten to 12th grade, four Title 1/intervention teachers, two and a third special education teachers and three para-educators. Moberg also discussed the wage increase of 1.75 percent, the $1,200 supplemental wage increase for teachers and a 3 percent health insurance increase.

District Administrator Jeff Moberg used his portion of the meeting to discuss the growth of the district and the successes of the district academically.

“We are a growing school school system and we are seeing a growth of 1 percent to 2 percent again this year,” Moberg said. “We have had around 140 new students enroll this summer and there will probably be more coming in as the year goes on.”

In another section of his presentation, Moberg discussed last year’s school report cards and how well the district did compared to other schools in the state, including how New Richmond spends in the bottom 10 percent per pupil and yet is still able to give its students a solid education.

“Last year, we were in the top 22 percent of schools in the state and I think that is a really remarkable achievement; especially since there are only 15 districts who spend less per pupil than New Richmond and that is a really good value in terms of dollars spent and student performance,” Moberg said.

Moberg also gave the assembled community members a first look at the recently released school report card, which showed score increases in four out of five buildings, which put all five schools into the Exceeds Expectations category.

The final item approved during the meeting was the setting of the 2015 Annual School District Meeting for Monday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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