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WDC School Board approves 2014 levy

The Wadena-Deer Creek School Board approved a levy Monday night that reduces district property taxes by 5.2 percent next year.

The board accepted a consultant’s recommendation authorizing $1,391,889 in 2014 taxes, a $76,283 drop from this year. As required by law, the board held a public hearing, but no citizens spoke.

Despite being lower than in 2013, next year’s levy is the maximum allowed under state law. Earlier in the meeting, consultant Nancy Ramler from the Central Minnesota Educational Research and Development Council, explained the lower number is due to two main factors: There are fewer WDC students than last year and the state of Minnesota is shouldering a larger share of education funding in its new budget.

During a brief discussion, board member Ann Pate said it’s important for the district to be able to raise enough money to pay for the state’s myriad requirements.“We should certify it to the maximum,” Pate said. The rest of the board agreed in a unanimous vote.

“This is a real good levy for our taxpayers, no doubt,” said WDC superintendent Lee Westrum after the meeting.

Although the board could have theoretically lowered taxes even further, Ramler said doing so could have put state school aid money at risk. School districts typically levy the maximum allowed amount.

Besides certifying the levy, the board also:

  • Signed off on new two-year contracts for WDC 5-12 Principal Tyler Church and elementary school Principal Louis Rutten that call for 2 percent pay increases each year and offer the potential for $1,800 in incentive pay.

  • Approved several personnel matters, including hiring Tracy Fruechte as 8th grade girls basketball coach, Katy Westrom as coach of the 9th grade girls basketball “C” squad, Crystal Guntermann as paraprofessional for Kid’s Club and Shane Snyder as Robotics co-advisor. They also renewed a phased retirement agreement and accepted the resignation of Prom Adviser Brittani Groshong. Pate asked whether a new Prom Adviser had been found. “Not yet, anyone interested?,” Church said. “We’ll get it covered here soon.”

  • Authorized an amendment to the food service union contract that allows staff to take two unpaid days off per year. The measure sunsets June 30, 2015, at the end of what Westrum called “a trial run” to ensure food service operations wouldn’t be disrupted.

  • Recognized agriculture teacher Richard Muckala, former hardware store owner Terry Lynk and Stimulating Economic Progress’s David Evert and Del Moen for their work on the recently completed greenhouse on the WDC Middle School/High School grounds. The board also praised the Wadena Elks Club for its contributions, especially a $10,000 donation. “We just can’t say enough to thank the Elks,” Westrum said. “They stuck with (the project) through tough times.”

  • Discussed when to make up the school day canceled in early December. The board took no action, but Westrum suggested moving a staff development day while ending spring break, scheduled for the end of March, a day early. “It’s the only spot on the calendar that works unless you want to add it at the end,” he said. Noting last year’s vicious winter, board member Peter Hayes said, “Hopefully, we don’t have another (snow day).”