BLUE EARTH - Blue Earth Area School Board approved a 0.85 percent property tax levy increase Monday.
The board was allowed to approve an increase of 6.5 percent or less.
"What the district is levying for is a decrease," said Superintendent Evan Gough, "mainly due to the high school being paid off."
Debt service for the high school, which opened in 1994, will be retired in February. Gough said this can be compared to paying off your mortgage. Not making those payments decreases the yearly initial debt service from $521,045 to $286,434.
Whether taxpayers see a decrease in their taxes will depend on individual property assessments.
Turning to another topic, the board decided not to renew a contract with East Dakota Educational Cooperative to oversee educational programming at Elmore Academy, on the recommendation of Gough.
"Blue Earth Area is ultimately responsible for the educational programming at Elmore Academy," he said.
"It's nothing negative toward EDEC," Gough noted. "We need to have more oversight of the program."
His plan includes Youth Services International being responsible for hiring teachers and support staff, with Blue Earth Area hiring a part-time administrator to oversee the program.
Gough said Austin has a residential treatment facility that he has visited and plans to use as a model.
"We have developed a draft agreement with YSI for these changes and the new agreement will be presented to the board at a later time," Gough said.
In his chairman's report, Frankie Bly thanked Shane Becker for his service to the board, since it was Becker's last meeting.
Gough also handed out accolades: Board members received District of Distinction recognition from the Minnesota School Boards Association, while Becker received the Director's Award for attending 100 or more hours of association workshops.
In other business, the board approved:
o A training agreement with Frontline Technologies for the Aesop Substitute Placement and Absence Management System. This will streamline finding substitute teachers.
o The executive audit report, presented by Craig Popenhagen, CPA, of CliftonLarsonAllen.
"The general fund operated on a break-even basis," Popenhagen said. "The fund balance is holding pretty steady.
"Overall, good results," he added.