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Pine River-Backus School: Board under levies, but projects funding increases

Though the Pine River-Backus School Board chose to under levy portions of the 2018 levy, the school district predicts a $259,902.16 (17.33 percent) revenue increase.

The board adopted a 2018 tax levy of $1,759,899.46 on Monday, Dec. 18.

Three main factors caused the projected revenue increase, specifically a rise in students enrolled with the district, an increase in long-term facilities maintenance funds and elimination of a reduction in debt service.

The long-term maintenance funds have been phasing in over the last three years, with 2018 marking the last year of phase in and the highest funding since the funds were introduced.

From 2017-18, the funds increased from $292 per pupil unit to $380 per pupil unit, resulting in an $81,991 increase.

The district saw the elimination of a debt service reduction applied in 2017, resulting in an increase of $187,672.82.

These factors mean that PR-B will see an increase in the budget even when the board chose to under levy. The board did not increase the local optional revenue, but instead chose a $395 per pupil unit versus the maximum levy of $424 per pupil unit. This is the same amount chosen for the 2017 levy.

In addition, the board had the option to levy for $11,950.92 in tree growth, but chose to levy no money in tree growth, a decision that mirrored 2017.

As a result in the increase in funding and the stable local optional revenue, the school levy is $1,759,899.46.

During the meeting, Business Manager Jolene Bengtson introduced the board to the Ag2School building bond tax credit that will benefit properties with a portion dedicated to agriculture. Those agricultural lands will receive a 40 percent tax credit on school bond taxes. The credit will appear to these properties as a decrease on individual tax statements, but will not show up on a school's levy report.

In other business Monday, the board:

• Hired Barbara Puleo as long-term substitute teacher, Savanna Doran as paraprofessional, John Rister as route bus driver and Margaret Dahms as van driver.

• Approved a child care leave of absence for Mackenzie Determan, speech language pathologist, and Alexis Anderson, elementary teacher.

• Approved the termination of Marcia Defatte, paraprofessional.

• Accepted the resignation of Richard Grundtner, bus driver.

• Approved a 2018 interagency agreement with Cass County and the Leech Lake Reservation Children's Initiative, Inc.

• Agreed to have a reorganizational meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 8.