MARSHALL - There was an abundance of information to digest at the Marshall Public Schools work session meeting Monday, including the district's Truth and Taxation hearing for taxes payable in 2011 and discussions on establishing priorities and objectives for the 2011-12 budget.
Director of business services Bruce Lamprecht walked the board through the Truth and Taxation presentation, highlighting a slight change in the levy amount requested.
"Every school district has to conduct a hearing," Lamprecht said. "School district revenues are highly regulated by the state. I got a call from Lyon County which equated into a net levy change of $12,000 more."
In September, the board approved the maximum levy amount, but an under-levy percentage of 3.88 was agreed upon instead. With the change, taxpayers can anticipate the proposed amount to be at 4.09 percent, or a district increase of $224,675, to be approved at the Dec. 20 meeting.
"We'll collect $12,000 more," Lamprecht said. "Each taxpayer's situation is different, but most will not see an increase."
Approximately 52 percent of the tax levy spending is on debt service, while 45 percent will go to general education and 3 percent to community education.
Together, the board and MPS administrators have been able to maintain a steady budget in the past few years in light of decreasing state assistance. But Lamprecht alerted the board to the most recent state budget report, dated Dec. 3, shedding a grim light over the subject.
"At this point in time, we're in good shape, but the budget forecast isn't very good," Lamprecht said. "The state is now facing a $6.2 billion deficit instead of $5.8 billion."
MPS Superintendent Klint Willert spoke to the board about a recent meeting he had with the Lynd school board concerning the tuition agreement that expires June 30, 2011. Board chairman Jeff Chapman, who was not able to attend the work session meeting, was present along with Lynd Superintendent Bruce Houck and principal Jason Swenson. There was a discussion about the possibility of Lynd receiving a potential discount of 5-10 percent.
"There was a general sense that the agreement is working," Willert said. "From Marshall's perspective, there's no change necessary. I don't see a need to do that."
Willert engaged the board with the 2012 budget priorities presentation, highlighting the successes and struggles in the past five years, but also looking forward.
"It's always wise to start out with our mission," he said. "It's about the students. We try to develop the potential of each student for success in a changing world."
The five-year strategic plan stated five goals and key measures: improving student performance, constituent satisfaction, employee development, aligned support systems and fiscal accountability and stability. With decreased state funding likely here to stay for a number of years, rural schools districts are in a tough spot.
"There could be another billion dollars added onto the state deficit yet," Willert said. "It's also not a short-term issue. It's something that the state's really going to grapple with. It's one of those items that is a very real issue for school districts because at some point in time, someone's going to have to pay the piper."
After the presentation, Willert initiated a priority challenge with the board members, asking them to select the top six services/program priorities and top six key budget objectives. Building principals were also asked to be present and to participate. While everyone struggled with having to choose between many quality issues, nothing was set in stone yet.
Student council representatives from the high school, middle school and at the primary level were also in attendance and reported on past and upcoming events pertaining to their organizations.