Monticelllo District 882 board approves 2013 levy

The Monticello school district’s new business manager, Tina Burkholder, gave the board a rundown of the 2013 preliminary levy at Monday evening’s board meeting and recommended setting the levy at $10,907,833, a 3.16 percent increase from the previous year.
She recommended setting this as the maximum to allow the district time to look for further ways to reduce the levy. While Burkholder said many aspects of the budget are not controlled at the local level, the biggest reason for this year’s increase was last year’s larger than average reduction to the excess fund balance.
Burkholder said the district collects 105 percent of its bond and principle payments for the debt service fund, in accordance with state law, to compensate for potential delinquent tax payments.

Attendees crowded in for a school board open house preceding their meeting Monday evening. The open house was also a commemoration of Community Education’s 40th anniversary, with many photos and materials on display from Community Ed’s past. (Photo by Meghan Gutzwiller)

When the fund balance grows large enough this excess gets returned to the debt service fund.
Last year the excess fund balance return was a larger-than-normal $810,000, compared with this year’s $372,000 reduction.
“Last year we had a facilities project from the 2008-09 school year that was closed out and came under budget, so we had to transfer over $500,000 [to the debt service fund], so that made the reduction a little higher,” Burkholder explained.
The district’s general fund went down $15,000 from the previous year and community service fund decreased by $3,500.
The voter approved referendum amount went up just under $25,000 from the previous year; the referendum was designed and passed by residents to automatically adjust for inflation.
Besides the inflationary increase, Burkholder said resident population and changes to land market values also helped drive up the voter approved referendum amount, factors she said they do not have local control over.
This increase was approved as the maximum amount allowed, which gives district some time to see if adjustments can be made to reduce the levy before final passage.
Board chair Scott Hill reminded meeting attendees that this will not increase taxpayer’s total levy by 3.16 percent, only the school district’s portion of total property taxes will see this increase.
The preliminary levy was approved 6-0.

In other business, the board:
-Heard the 2012 science MCA results from Linda Borgerding, director of curriculum and instruction for the district.
Science teachers in grades 5, 8 and 10 take the science MCA-III test, and all three grade levels saw higher scores in Monticello than the state average.
The district reported 70.2 percent of Little Mountain fifth graders met proficiency standards and 75.5 percent of Pinewood students compared with the state average of 57.7 percent.
Additionally, 56.5 percent of middle school students were proficient on their science exam compared with 41.9 at the state level and 61 percent to the state’s 51.7 percent for high school.
-Accepted a $1,000 donation from the United Way for Pinewood and a $500 donation from the Kopp Family Foundation for the Connect 5 program.
-Heard a recap from high school student Marty McNichols on his Eagle Scout project, which was to create bonfire area for their annual Homecoming festivities. McNichols should be receiving his Eagle Scout honor within the month.
-Heard a student representative report from Pat McNaughton regarding the high school’s Homecoming festivities.
Some of his favorites were the class colors day where each grade wears their own color, having the Homecoming royalty visit the elementary schools, school spirit day and the annual Powderpuff and Ironman games.