WORTHINGTON — It’s that time of year again for governing boards to consider next year’s budget, and the District 518 Board of Education’s operations committee took the first look at its payable 2020 levy during a Tuesday morning meeting.

Superintendent John Landgaard reported that the school district’s levy limit is projected to increase approximately 6.8% from last year’s, which translates to an additional $452,300.

Because the board opted to under levy $500,000 last year, the actual percentage difference could reflect a 15% increase on initial tax statements, he added. The dollar figure attributed to that percentage increase is $952,300.

Landgaard recommended the board move forward as it usually does by approving its maximum levy authority prior to the Sept. 30 deadline and then make adjustments through December, when the final levy must be set.

The operations committee opted not to make a recommendation regarding the levy. The full school board is expected to discuss it during its regular 5:15 p.m. Sept. 17 meeting in the Worthington High School Media Center.

W.E.L.L. update

The committees also heard a Welcome, Education, Library and Livability (W.E.L.L.) project update from Landgaard.

At a meeting last week, representatives from the city of Worthington, Nobles County and school recommended hiring ICS to be the owner representative, which is similar to a project manager.

An upcoming Sept. 18 meeting of all boards will consider the architect contract with LHB. The proposed six-step contract is estimated to cost $259,000 plus reimbursable expenses.

Also on the horizon is an Oct. 9 stop by the Minnesota House of Representatives on its state bonding tour. The tour, which begins at 8:30 a.m., is scheduled to include stops at the Nobles County Library, proposed W.E.L.L. site along Second Avenue and the district’s West Learning Center.

The request made to the state, Landgaard reported, is $18 million, which is 40% of the project cost.

If the collaborative facility receives state bonding money, the entire cost of the project as now proposed is estimated to cost $41 million. If the state bonding request fails, the scope of the project will be adjusted to fit within an estimated $23 million budget.

Other upcoming work to be accomplished includes establishing a joint powers agreement or memorandum of understanding between the three entities, Landgaard said.

In other school board committee business:

  • The operations committee heard about future plans for the triangular-shaped parking lot between the tennis courts and baseball field along Crailsheim Road. The proposed two-phase project may begin as early as this fall using long-term facility maintenance dollars to address drainage tile, correct elevation and hauling in additional granular to improve the condition of the parking lot. The improvements will be made with the tentative plan to pour a hard surface next spring. The proposal is the district’s second attempt to hard surface the lot after bids received last spring were double than expected.

  • Landgaard reported to the instructional committee that the district is completing a proposal to submit to the city to operate its new activities facility. Landgaard said the facility fits within community education’s mission. Receiving the contract to operate and provide supervision for the facility would require the district add more staff members, which Landgaard reported is accounted for in the district’s submission.

  • The instructional committee heard a staff update. Landgaard reported that the district is short three EL teachers (two at Prairie Elementary and one at WHS) and one high school special education teacher. The positions will remain open, but hiring may be more difficult now that the school year has begun.