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Park Rapids School Board approves preliminary levy

The Park Rapids Area School Board has proposed a 2.69 percent increase for the payable 2018 levy.

At their Sept. 18 meeting, the board approved a preliminary levy totaling $5,153,458 — an increase of $135,430 over the payable 2017 levy. This is the maximum amount allowed by state formula.

"This is something we always do at this juncture," said Board Chair Sherry Safratowich, adding that Business Manager Dawn Duevel will fine-tune the figures later on.

The board will set the final levy at a December meeting.

Last year's final levy was $5,018,028.

The proposed 2018 general fund levy is $2,195,267 compared to last year's $2,068,476.

The community service fund levy is $195,240, a slight decrease from 2017's $197,745.

The proposed total debt service levy is an increase from $2,751,807 to $2,762,950.

In related business, Duevel reported that a recent audit was deemed "clean."

"It was a very good audit, very successful," she said.

The school district also implemented a new finance committee. The members are Duevel, Superintendent Lance Bagstad and board members Safratowich and Stephanie Carlson.

"I think that helps having a committee make decisions and bringing those to the board," Duevel said, adding the finance committee will meet monthly to review proposed budgets and business matters.

Interpreter position

Elementary Principal Joleen DeLaHunt noted that parent-teacher conferences are approaching.

"We have 12 non-English speaking students who qualify for our ELL [English Language Learners] program," she told the board. We've put some time into putting together a template for that and who our interpreters are and finding out what we need to cover. I do have two students that I don't have a contact for who speak English."

The need is for Spanish and Guatemalan speakers, DeLaHunt said.

"Even when I can say a few words, I can't communicate with many because they come with different dialects from different villages in Central America, and that's where we get a lot of our students," she continued.

There's so much variation in dialect and slang, for example, that a Mexican student can't speak fluently with a Guatemalan student, DeLaHunt said.

"We're lucky because a lot of our families have at least one parent that can communicate quite well. We do our best."

The board approved the first reading of the job description.

In other business, the school board did the following:

• Assigned $260,000 from the unreserved general fund for HVAC upgrades and $240,000 for district-wide communication upgrades. Duevel said rooftop vents on the Frank White Education Building are inefficient and poorly working; therefore, they need to be replaced. The district also must replace an obsolete, analog telephone system.

• Bagstad reported that a brand-new bus broke down Sept. 15 in East Grand Forks. The transmission had a sensor that was malfunctioning, he said. The bus repair is covered under warranty.

• Hired Clare Knudson, PAWN secretarial clerk; Faith Kern, costume technician for the fall play; Eric Myhre, head girls hockey coach; Nic Lembcke and Josh Cook, junior high boys basketball; Joanna Johnson, ECSE paraprofessional; Emily Boedigheimer, part-time School Readiness teacher, and Colleen Hoscheid, part-time School Readiness paraprofessional.

• Approved out-of-state travel for Greg Worner to attend an international STEM conference in Branson, Missouri from Oct. 8-10.

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