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ACGC, Minn., school officials approve levy decrease of 1.6%

COMSOS — The school levy will be decreasing 1.6 percent next year in the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District.

The board certified the $2,406,269 levy last week following a Truth-in-Taxation hearing.

The 2012 levy, which is payable in 2013, is $40,781 less than the previous year.

Because of the diversity of the district’s tax base, individual property owners will not likely see significant changes in their school property taxes. However because of an overall increase in value on agricultural land, owners of farmland will likely bear more of the financial responsibility, according to Dan Tait, ACGC business manager.

Tait said the reduced levy is because of a reduction in the number of students. He said it appears the “gap is widening” slightly in the number of students who use open enrollment to leave the district compared to the number of students who come into the district.

The open enrollment statute allows public school students the opportunity to apply to attend a school outside of the school district where they live. State funding follows the student and does not remain in the home district.

Overall enrollment for ACGC has decreased 18 students from when the school year ended in May. The December enrollment is 754 students.

The board last week also agreed to appoint current board member Judy Raske to fill the unexpired term of Lori Martin.

Martin was elected two years ago to a four-year term but resigned last month because her family moved out of the district.

Raske, who is the longest-serving member on the board and was named to the 2012 Minnesota All State School Board, did not seek re-election this fall.

Raske agreed to accept the two-year appointment, which takes effect Jan. 8 when the board conducts its organizational meeting for 2013.

Michelle Randt, who ran unsuccessfully for ACGC school board this fall, had told the board she was interested in the appointment as well.

Tait said there was discussion about the merits of keeping an experienced member on the board versus bringing a new person with new ideas on the board.

The vote to appoint Raske was 5-1 with Scott Stafford voting no and Raske abstaining.

The entire board will attend the Minnesota School Boards Association leadership training and next year an association official will come to ACGC to conduct training with the board.

In preparation for ACGC students receiving iPads, the board approved a student handbook for using the school’s electronic devices. The handbook is modeled on ones used by the Willmar and Minnetonka school districts.

The board also approved a set of goals, including seeking voter approval during the November general election to renew the operating levy in 2014 and maintaining an unrestricted fund balance at a minimum of 20 percent of general fund expenditures.

The board also set goals of improving third- and fourth-grade students’ math and reading scores by 10 percent.

Another goal is to develop an exit strategy for ownership of the Cosmos school by May 2013 while openly communicating with the Southwest/West Central Service Cooperative. The cooperative leases space in the building where it operates the Cosmos Learning Center for students with autism.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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