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Houston School Board analyzes possible levy scenarios

By Angie Rodenburg

Fri, Nov 22nd, 2013
Posted in All Education

The Houston School Board held a meeting on November 19 in the Houston High School Library. At the meeting Bradley Carlton of Clifton Larson Allen, an accountancy firm, presented the findings of the Houston School’s audit. Carlton went through numerous categories showing the board where each category stands financially. Such categories were pupil support services, transportation, community service, capital expenditures, site, buildings, and equipment, as well as many others. Each category was also compared to the state average in said categories. Houston School’s fared well in comparison to state averages in most of the categories. Carlton told the board that the firm encountered no issues and that nothing needed to be fixed. Carlton praised the finance staff on a job well done and thanked Gwen Rostad, Houston School’s Director of Finance, in particularly on a job well done. Carlton reported that the school had very little debt and that was “something to be proud of.”

At the meeting Gwen Rostad presented five possible scenarios for the Payable ‘14 Levy. The scenarios were discussed in preparation for the Truth in Taxation meeting that will be held on December 3. The first scenario would be an under levy. Scenario 2 would be accepting all the location equity revenue, but having under levies in other categories. Scenario 3 would be half of the location equity revenue with all other levies staying the same. Scenario 4 is half of the location equity revenue with under levies in other categories. Scenario 5 compares Houston to the other districts in Houston County, which is at a tax rate equal to the next highest tax rate in the county. Rostad and other board members expressed favor for Scenario 4, however, a final decision will not be made until December 17. Before a decision is made, the board will do a cost/benefit analysis, get a recommendation from the finance committee, and hold the Truth in Taxation meeting. All the information gathered will aid in making the final decision on the Payable ‘14 Levy.

A MNVA update was also given by Justin Treptow and Cody Mathers. They shared the K12 goals and showed how they align with Houston Public Schools and MNVA goals for the 2013-2014 school year. According to Treptow and Mathers, the Houston Public Schools and MNVA vision is to “lead in learning.” The mission is to “discover, develop, and achieve the potential within all learners.” The aims are to maximize student achievement; provide safe, welcoming, and innovative learning environments; have efficient and effective operations; and have parental involvement and community partnerships.

Krin Abraham also spoke to the school board about college entrance tests. According to Abraham, “The District Advisory Committee voted on October 30 to allow students to also use the SAT and Accuplacer entrance exams to demonstrate both preparedness for college and satisfaction of graduation required exams. Statute allows for the District Advisory Committee to decide which test would be allowed; however, in the interest of ensuring these two tests can be considered ‘district approved’, the committee would like the board to officially approve the addition of the SAT and Accuplacer exams.” The two tests were approved by the board per the District Advisory Committee’s request.

The school board was pleased to announce that Ron Evanson was selected among 2,300 nominees to be a part of the 2014 All State School Board by the Minnesota School Board Association. This is the MSBA’s most prestigious award. Only seven nominees are selected to be on the All State School Board per year. School board members are nominated by superintendents, fellow board members, parents, or community members. All nominees considered for the award must have MSBA training; strong leadership; excellence in boardmanship; communication skills; visionary thinking; demonstration of concern for students, staff and taxpayers; and support for the nomination from stakeholders. Evanson will receive the award on January 16, 2014, at the MSBA’s Annual Leadership Conference.

The next School Board meeting will be held on Tuesday, December 3 at the Houston High School library at 5:30 p.m.

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