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PR-B School District: Board certifies maximum levy, anticipates lowering levy by December

The Pine River-Backus School Board certified a maximum proposed levy at its Monday, Sept. 18, meeting.

The maximum proposed levy includes a $424 per pupil unit local optional revenue (LOR). Though the board has had that LOR in previous years, last December it chose a $395 per pupil unit LOR when certifying the final levy, in spite of starting with a maximum preliminary levy last September.

The maximum levy is equal to $1,801,936.93, which would be a 19.18 percent increase over this year's levy. The increase is not only due to the proposed maximum LOR (approximately a $50,585.07 increase), but also an $81,891.45 increase to long-term facilities maintenance funding by the state. This year's per pupil unit for long-term facilities maintenance was $292 compared to the proposed $380 per pupil unit for 2018.

Business Manager Jolene Bengtson said the state has been phasing in long-term facilities maintenance for three years, with this being the final phase.

Another hike was due to an increase in debt services financing of $187,672.82. PR-B has been seeing reductions to debt services from the state due to the district holding large reserves. This year the district has no reduction and qualifies for more funding for debt services.

Proposing a maximum levy in September does not necessarily mean the district will ultimately choose a higher levy in December. For the prior levy year, the board started with a $1,077,091.32 maximum option, but certified a final levy of $1,065,140.40.

PR-B has traditionally approved the maximum levy during the September budget meeting, giving the school's business manager fewer restrictions while crunching numbers for the final levy, to be voted on in December. When the board chooses a preliminary levy, it cannot increase it before the December final levy is decided.

Bengtson said a maximum preliminary budget allows her to adjust the budget as state funding goes through constant changes. The district usually starts with a maximum levy in September and then chooses to "under levy" in December.

In other business, the board:

• Accepted the resignation of paraprofessional Nicole Pahl and van drivers Steve Dahms, Margaret Dahms and William Johnson.

• Hired van drivers Dan McMillan and Kim Anderson, varsity dance coach Autumn LaDue and paraprofessionals Katherine Hulke, Laura Neuman and Carol Christensen.

• Approved a childcare leave of absence for Molly Hoffarth and authorized posting for a long-term substitute teacher.