As a state requirement, the Wadena-Deer Creek school board held their Truth in Taxation meeting on Dec. 16.

WDC business manager Brian Jacobson went through a short version of the Truth in Taxation presentation, completing the highlights and approval of the levy certification of the levy in 15 minutes. Jacobson shared district revenues and expenditures from this year that help build the budget for next year. The building construction fund budget for 2020 is $5 million, however, the budget was made prior to knowing how much was left in the project budget so there is less than $5 million available to spend, according to Jacobson.

Jacobson also discussed the district’s proposed tax levies for taxes payable in 2020. The total change is an increase of $69,175 (3.37%). The proposed increases include the general fund of $43,399 (3.53%), community service fund of $9,503 (19.42%) and debt service of $16,274 (2.09%). The general fund increase comes from the voter approved referendum dropping by $94,054 and the local optional amount increasing by $128,675 to balance the two, according to Jacobson. In the community service fund, the large increase is due to the prior budget being approximately $50,000. The school age care is now $6,000 of the community service fund, which Jacobson said is, “very limited in what we can spend that money for.”

The board approved the final levy amount of $2,123,825.57 shared by WDC superintendent Lee Westrum.

In other actions, the board approved:

  • The hiring of Tammy Waln (bus driver) and Heidi Dolezal (elementary para), retirement/resignation of Kathryn Kukacka-Lampert (M-State Food Service) and the lane change of Sara Lenz (elementary SPED).

  • The paying of the district’s bills totaling $308,548.69 and bond construction bills of $154,276.07. Donations were also received totaling $1,258.00.

  • The 2018-19 audit report from Eide Bailly, which was discussed at the board meeting on Nov. 25.

  • A proposal to continue using Eide Bailly as auditor for the next three years. While the cost will increase, Jacobson and Westrum believe they are reasonable and that the company has done good work in the past.

  • A food service collective bargaining agreement that was negotiated with the food service union. The changes included updated language and monetary values for employment practice, basic work conditions, group insurance, leaves of absence and salary schedule. The level 4 certification was added, longevity pay was increased by $125 per level and the district’s contribution to food service health insurance increased by $751 per year as a part of the comprehensive major medical district plan for 2019-20. Personal leave was also increased from two days to three days with an accumulation of up to five days, changed from the previous three days.

The board also recognized students from in the fall play “Game of Tiaras” and drama director and English teacher Beth Hawkins. Lily Adkins, Owen Guo, Michael Schmidt and Ryann Schmidt each shared their favorite parts about their roles in the play. Hawkins also noted how 51 students, also involved in other school activities, were a part of the play and that there was a lot of community support.

“I got a lot of laughs out of it. I thought it was really funny, and I thought you all did an excellent job,” Westrum said.

Westrum gave an update on the elementary school project, with a focus on projects that will happen over Christmas break. The projects include carpeting, drywall repair, bathroom floors and phones. The elementary project is in the “patience phase,” school board chair Kent Schmidt said.

The school board also heard a presentation from English teacher Krista Coyle and math teacher Chelsa Golberg about adding an honors program for 7th and 8th grade students. Coyle and Golberg want to inspire students to pursue topics they are interested in with the Gold Card program. Students would apply for a Gold Card to leave class and work on a passion project. One idea mentioned includes learning how to be a movie critic and the Cozy posting the reviews on their website. The goal is to partner students with the community as well. The pilot program would begin at the start of next semester with students from the A honor roll and possibly the B honor roll who are accepted into the program.