Superintendent Corner

Spring is coming
Posted on 02/24/2020
Supt. Mr. Kosters

The third quarter will come to an end on Thursday, March 12; and Parent-Teacher Conferences will be taking place the following week, on Tuesday, March 17, from 3:30-8:00.  When the FYI comes out, the winter sports seasons will either be completed or nearing completion.  The end of one season signals the beginning of another, though it is difficult to think about Spring activities with the current temperatures and snow cover still remaining.  Track practice will get its start on Tuesday, March 13, and should there be enough participants; golf will start shortly afterwards.

March also signals the end of another legislative session in Pierre.  There were quite a few bills introduced from both sides of the aisle that dealt with education in some way, shape, or form.  A few years back, the Blue Ribbon Task Force was assembled to try and find a solution for the issue of low teacher pay in our state.  Teachers were given a significant bump in salary following the work of that group and the legislature enacted guidelines for districts to follow to remain in compliance with continuing to keep teacher salaries up.  The legislature also passed a law that stated education funding would increase each year by 3% or Consumer Price Inflation (CPI); whichever is less.  Needless to say, that hasn’t always been done; and in Governor Noem’s recent budget address, she recommended a 0% increase for education due to projected revenues not being where they thought they would be.  Since that address, final quarter revenues have exceeded their projections and perhaps education may see a bump in funding after all.  The bigger question is why our elected officials in Pierre can’t follow the very laws that they themselves have passed?  School districts’ feet are held to the fire with having to remain compliant, and if something happens beyond a districts control as it pertains to average teacher salary; they are forced to reopen negotiations and make it right.  Yet our fine folks in Pierre somehow give themselves a pass when it comes to funding education, by not following the very same laws they have passed.

The biggest concern for our school district currently, as it pertains to funding, deals with Capital Outlay.  Unless something changes this current session; the amount of revenue that some districts can generate will change significantly on July 1.  Currently, districts have been able to levy up to $3 per thousand of assessed valuation within their districts.  It doesn’t mean that a district has to do that, but that is the maximum.  Frederick Area’s current levy is closer to $2.20.  After July 1, maximum revenues from Capital Outlay will be equal to $2,800 per student.  Every district is affected differently of course, but what is not debatable is the fact that the vast majority of districts in the state will be affected negatively with this change.  I believe I may have touched on this last year as well, but based on our current levy; Frederick Area will lose approximately $350,000 annually with this new cap.  Districts have also been able to transfer up to 45% of Capital Outlay revenues to help offset General Fund expenditures, so that also means that roughly $150,000 less will be going into the General Fund.  We have a perpetual opt out of $150,000 and in recent years we have roughly been breaking even so to speak.  Should nothing change and the new cap take effect on July 1, Frederick Area will most certainly need to begin having conversations about a new opt out for future years.  I believe there are three different bills dealing with Capital Outlay, but HB 1198 is the one that would be most beneficial to us if it were to pass.

Lastly, I recently received a notification from Brown County Emergency Manager, Scott Meints.  Perhaps some of you have already taken advantage of the service, but for those of you who haven’t; you can sign up for “impact texts” in Brown County.  Simply text “AlertBrown” to 85511 to stay connected with alerts going on in our county; such as weather issues, traffic hazards, road closures, etc…  Here’s to thinking pleasant thoughts on a positive outcome from Pierre and warmer spring-like temperatures!