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District 518 approves levy

WORTHINGTON — The District 518 Board of Education unanimously approved a half-million-dollar  levy reduction during its regular Tuesday board meeting.

The actual levy for payable 2019 was approved at $6,153,419.97. After available credits are applied, the net levy is approximately $5,658,000.

The levy represents a 17.4 percentage increase over last year’s total, although Director of Business Management Dave Skog said that’s due in part to the board’s decision to under-levy by $1 million last year. Had the board not under levied by a half-million, he added, the levy would have shown a nearly 28 percent levy increase.

In another scenario, had the board levied to its maximum authority this year and last year, the levy would have represented a slightly less than 6 percent increase when comparing this year to las.

Board member Linden Olson — who had previously objected to the $500,000 under-levy proposal, citing concerns related to potential unforeseen construction costs related to the intermediate school should the bond proposal pass — said he had reconsidered and voted in favor of the reduction.

“I think the major thing that we need to look at as a school board is to get the referendum passed and I think if we can get the word out we did under-levy, it may buy us a few votes and help us pass this,” he said.

In other business, the board:

  • Learned that the district may need to hire additional special education staff due to an increasing number of students that qualify for services. According to Special Education Director Deb Stoll, 551 students currently have an identified disability that qualifies them for services — an increase of more than 100 students since just three years ago.
  • Learned that the district received a positive review and comment from the Minnesota Department of Education regarding the district’s upcoming Feb. 12 bond proposal to fund a new intermediate school.
  • Heard a positive report from Landgaard about the new Teachers On Call service that manages the district’s substitute teacher needs. The service, he said, has resulted in higher fills for the teacher vacancies and increased the pool of available substitutes.
  • Scheduled a 7:30 a.m. Jan. 3 reorganizational meeting.
  • Thanked and recognized outgoing vice chair Scott Rosenberg for eight years of service to the board. Board member-elect Adam Blume will take his seat in January.