The Kingsland School Board met in regular session on February 20. Members present included Board chair Jackie Horsman, Kyle Rader, Maranda Emig, Natasha Howard, Tiffany Mundfrom, Leah Stier, and Superintendent James Hecimovich. Student representative Zachary Queensland was absent.
The board discussed options for setting the “per pupil unit” operating levy amount. The amounts discussed were $1,042, $1,142, and $1,242. Jackie Horsman shared her opinion, saying that she likes the $1,242 amount, because of what it would offer the Kingsland students, but said she understands that the board also needs to consider taxpayer burden. Several board members spoke in favor of the $1,142 amount, partly because of concerns that a lower amount now would mean the board would likely need to ask taxpayers for another increase within just a few years.
Tiffany Mundfrom stated, “For me, it’s more about trust, that we are asking for what we need. I don’t want to ask for too little and then have to say, ‘Yeah we really should have asked for a little more.’ I feel like we’re asking for what’s going to help us stay healthy.”
After discussion, the board voted unanimously to set the operating levy at $1,142 per pupil unit. Hecimovich said the challenge now is to work on communicating to the community what this levy is all about, and eliminating misconceptions about where the money goes.
The board discussed the problem of snow days. Herbrand’s written report stated, “Kingsland, as well as most area districts, has used more snow days than can be recalled. E-learning days have been exhausted… Extending the school year is out of the question due to construction (planned for the summer of 2019).”
Superintendent Hecimovich shared that currently, Kingsland is “in good shape” to exceed the minimum number of instructional hours this school year. But he added that is the current weather pattern continues, that could change. He said his suggestion is that if many more snow days occur, Kingsland could consider canceling some of the “early out days” currently planned. After discussion, the board voted unanimously to give the superintendent approval to make such adjustments to the academic calendar as are needed due to inclement weather.
Hecimovich suggested scheduling a “Financial 101” session for the board and himself, and he hopes Mike Hoheisel, from the Baird financial advising firm, could provide the training. No date has been set yet. Although Business Manager Amber Herbrand was not in attendance at the meeting, she submitted a written report on the proposed revised budget, and she also participated via speaker phone to answer board member questions and concerns. She stated that deficit spending of roughly $60,000 is expected in the current year.
Herbrand also stressed that all projections of Kingsland’s financial outlook are “best estimates” based on historical patterns. But she pointed out that the future is never known, and as Kingsland looks to project five or more years ahead, the accuracy is harder and harder to achieve.
Hecimovich shared that the “Courtyard project” is being pursued. He explained that it’s to build a new playground, and that the total cost is expected to be up to around $32,000. He said many creative fundraising options are being explored to fund this project.
Preschool fees were increased by $5 per month for each class offering. The board briefly discussed information that has come to Kingsland regarding the Lanning house tax abatement. The board felt that not enough information is available yet, so the issue was tabled.
After brief discussion, the board approved the proposed senior class trip, as previously described to the board by senior students. The next board meeting will be a work session on Monday, March 4 at 6 p.m. in the elementary conference room. As always, the public is welcome at all open meetings.