July 17 Meeting Highlights

July 17 Meeting Highlights

The minutes from the July 17, 2023 meeting will be reviewed and approved by the School District 197 School Board at the Monday, August 7, 2023 meeting. For more information about meeting agendas and minutes, please CLICK HERE.

Action Item - Approval of the Agenda
The motion carried (5-0).

Action Item - Approval of the Consent Agenda
The motion carried (5-0).

Comments to the School Board
A district parent and community member attended the meeting to thank board members for their efforts to support the LGBTQ+ community.

Community Levy Survey Results
Peter Leatherman from The Morris Leatherman Company presented the recent Community Levy Survey results for ISD 197. For this survey, telephone interviews were conducted between June 19-29 with a random sample of 625 School District 197 households. Of those sampled, 76% have lived in the district for 11 or more years, 80% are 35 years of age or older, and 48% are college graduates. When surveyed on specific perceptions of the school district as it relates to finances, 70% agreed that the district spends their funds efficiently, 74% agreed that the district does a good job of communicating, 65% are satisfied with the decision-making processes and 65% were likely to support a referendum. Of those sampled, 81% either support or strongly support a renewal of the current capital projects levy that is in place. Of those sampled, 60% either support or strongly support a $700/per pupil operating levy recommendation supporting things like maintaining programs and class sizes, reading and math support, social, emotional and mental health supports, and retaining and attracting staff. Board members thanked Mr. Leatherman for his presentation. Chair Mansur asked the administration to come back to the board at their August 7 meeting with a recommendation on how to move forward.

Budget/Referendum Discussion
Brian Schultz, Director of Finance, presented information related to the school district budget and current referendum funding. The school district currently has three referendums in place – an operating levy that was approved in 2016 with an initial levy year for 2018 and in place for ten years; an operating levy that was approved in 2021 with an initial levy year for 2022 and in place for ten years; and a capital project levy that was approved in 2014 with an initial levy year for 2015 and in place for ten years. Mr. Schultz went over the General Fund projections through the 2026-2027 school years. Even though additional funding has been received from the state, it continues to not keep pace with inflation or the current and new unfunded mandates. Projections show deficit spending to continue, resulting in the district’s fund balance going below the board’s threshold. Additional funding will be needed to maintain current class sizes, programs and student supports.

Critical priorities for the school district include:

  • Buffering against rising costs to maintain budget stability and provide competitive wages
  • Making permanent some of the supports that were established through one-time elementary and secondary school emergency relief (ESSER) funds
  • Support areas of desired improvement including mental health and behavior supports; expansion of reading and math intervention programming; and additional ESL (English as a Second Language) programming

Administration presented options for the board to consider.

  • Option 1 – renew the current capital project (technology) levy at the same amount – no change to tax rate
  • Option 2a – request $700/student operating levy increase – estimated tax impact for a $350,000 home would be an increase of $12.83 per month
  • Option 2b – revoke $1,145/student operating levy and replace it with one that represents an increase – estimated tax impact for a $350,000 home would be an increase of $12.83 per month and would extend the existing levy by 5 years

Administration will present a recommendation at the August 7, 2023 meeting including proposed ballot language.

First Reading of Policy 106, Equity
Peter Mau, Assistant Superintendent, presented a first reading of Policy 106, Equity. An equity audit was completed toward the end of the 2020-2021 school year. That audit recommended developing an equity policy. MSBA does not have a specific equity policy. This is a new policy for the school district but equity work has been ongoing. Administration began working with the Equity Advisory Committee during the 2021-2022 school year and it was determined that the School Board should guide the development of the equity policy. That work began during the 2022-2023 school year. Once the School Board provided input and guidance, other stakeholder groups provided additional input in the development of the draft equity policy. Once drafted, administration sought feedback from various student, family, and staff stakeholder groups. Finally, legal counsel was sought. The draft policy is the culmination of that work. The policy establishes equity as an essential value in the district’s governance, leadership, policies, programs, operations and practices. The district is committed to equitable opportunities and outcomes for the students, families and staff. Within the policy, there are shared responsibilities and accountability details including the School Board, Superintendent, administration, staff, students and families/community. Changes to the draft policy included several word choice changes and some grammatical changes. Parent/guardian responsibility for student attendance was added. This policy will be brought back for a second reading at the August 7, 2023 School Board Meeting.

Action Item - Advertising Location Requests as it Relates to Policy 905, Advertising
Per policy 905, the administration requested permission to allow advertising in a variety of locations detailed at the meeting. Once specific locations are approved, the administration is responsible for determining if individual advertisements will be approved (in accordance with the requirements detailed in
policy 905). Beyond the policy requirements, the administration will not approve any specific advertisements that violate restrictions set by the Minnesota State High School League.
The motion carried (4-1).

Closed Session
Board members recessed to a closed session, pursuant to MN Statute 13D.05, Subd. 3(a), to discuss the Superintendent evaluation.

The motion carried (5-0).